Skip to main content

Full text of "An outstretched arm : a history of the Jewish Colonization Association"

See other formats



A" outstretched arm :a history of the Je 

3 1924 011 030 396 










Cornell University 

The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 


1 Baron Maurice de Hirsch 




A History of the 
Jewish Colonization Association 


... I will bring you out from under the burdens of the 
Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, 
and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm. . . . 

Exodus VI:6 

Routledge & Kegan Paul 
London, Boston, Melbourne and Henley 

First published in 1983 

by Routledge & Kegan Paul pic 

14 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7PH, England, 

9 Park Street, Boston, Mass. 02108, USA, 

464 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, 
Victoria 3004, Australia, and 

Broadway House, Newtown Road, 
Henley-on-Thames, Oxon RG9 lEN, England 

Set in Linotron Bembo 

by Input Typesetting Ltd., London 

and printed in Great Britain 

by Hartnoll Print 

Bodmin, Cornwall 

©Jewish Colonization Association 1985 

No part of this book may be reproduced in 
any form without permission from the publisher, 
except for the quotation of brief passages 
in criticism 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 

Norman, Theodore, 1910- 

An outstretched arm. 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 

1. Jewish Colonization Association. 2. Jews — Coloni- 
zation. 3. Farmers, Jewish. I. Title. 
DS143.N66 1985 909' .04924' 006 84-9901 

British Library CIP data available 

ISBN 0-7102-0253-9 

Dedicated to the memory of 

Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid, Bart., DSO, MC, TD, 

President of JCA from 1951 to 1976 
and shaper of its policy after the Second World War, 

and of Mordechai Paran, 
JCA's Manager in Israel from 1966 to 1978 


Foreword by the Hon. L. H. L. Cohen xi 

Acknowledgments xv 

Introduction 1 

Part I 1891-1914 

1 The Baron de Hirsch and Russian Jewry 7 

2 The Beginning of the Jewish Colonization Association 19 

3 Activities in Russia 42 

4 JCA in Palestine 54 

5 Argentine Colonies 70 

6 JCA Elsewhere 90 

Part II The Inter-War Years 

1 Argentina after the First World War 117 

8 The Situation in Russia 134 

9 Palestine and the Near East 151 

10 Poland and Eastern Europe 166 

11 Romania and Czechoslovakia 190 

12 Migration 201 

Pari III From the Second World War to the Present 

13 End in Argentina 229 

14 JCA World-wide 242 

15 Israel 263 

Epilogue 291 


A Members of the JCA Council, 1891-1984 292 

B Presidents of JCA, 1891-1984 294 

C JCA's Accounts 295 

D Rates of Exchange 306 

Notes 308 

Index 319 




1 Baron Maurice de Hirsch 

Between pages 88 and 89 
2a Moisesville, Argentina, early twentieth century. Settlers 

from Eastern Europe in the synagogue 
2b Lipton Colony, Canada. Early settlers 

Between pages 120 and 121 
3a Saskatchewan, Canada, 1919. Jewish farm workers 
3b Saskatchewan, Canada, 1919. Farm machinery purchased 

with JCA funds 
4a USSR, between the wars. Improved farming methods in 

the Jewish rural communities helped by JCA 
4b Ukraine, pre-1925. Loan kassa 

Between pages 152 and 153 
5a Beer Tuvia, Israel. Farmer's house before the 1929 

5b Beer Tuvia, Israel, 1930. The settlement in ruins 
6a Beer Tuvia, Israel. The settlement after reconstruction 
6b Israel, 1937. Surveying the Huleh swamps 

Between pages 184 and 185 
7a Kishinev, Bessarabia, 1920s. Trade school 
7b Poland, 1925. Trade school 

8a Petrovka, Bessarabia, 1920s. Jewish farmer and son 
8b Petrovka, Bessarabia, 1924. Wine-making 

Between pages 216 and 211 
9a Petrovka, Bessarabia, 1924. Milking sheep and goats 
9b Lvov, Gahcia, 1924. Separating cream 
10a Colony Clara, Argentina, 1948. Grain elevator 

Colony Clara, Argentina, 1964. Vegetable oil extraction 





Between pages 248 and 249 
11a Quatro-Irmaos, Brazil, 1930. JCA's railway 
lib Rezende, Brazil, 1939. Colonist's house 
12a Quatro-Irmaos, Brazil, 1950. 'Reception day' at the 

administrator's office 
12b Quatro-Irmaos, Brazil, 1952. Extracting the timber 
13a Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada, 1953. M. Gottschalk, 

JCA Vice-President, and V. Girmounsky, Director 

General, visiting a farmer settled by JCA 
13b Buenos Aires, 1954. JCA representatives received by 

General Peron, President of Argentina 
14a Casablanca, Morocco, 1953. Jewish artisans in the mellah 
14b Casablanca, Morocco, 1953. The loan kassa manager 

interviewing clients 

Between pages 264 and 265 
15a Avigdor, Israel, 1955 

15b Kfar Warburg, Israel, 1960. Farmer's house 
16a Beer Tuvia, Israel. The school 
16b Nir Banim, Israel. The communal hall 


1 The Pale of Settlement 41 

2 Palestine: Settlements associated with JCA, 

1896-1924 53 

3 JCA colonies in Argentina 69 

4 Eastern Europe between the wars 133 

5 Israel: Settlements associated with JCA, 1934-83 260-1 

6 Israel: Educational and research institutions assisted 

by JCA 262 



by the Hon. L. H. L. Cohen, President of JCA 

I am deeply grateful to Ted Norman for his work in writing this 
history of the first 90 years of the Jewish Colonization Association 
(JCA). As Director of the Baron de Hirsch Fund, New York, he 
has a wealth of knowledge on the background of Baron Maurice 
de Hirsch's charitable enterprises, and for him this has been a 
labour of lave. 

This history is in one sense an act of memorial to Baron Maurice 
de Hirsch, JCA's founder, who was born 152 years ago and died 
in 1896. A claim might be made that he was the greatest Jewish 
philanthropist of the nineteenth century, and certainly JCA was 
the recipient of the greatest of his philanthropies. The 14th edition 
of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published in 1929, still referred to 
JCA as probably the greatest charitable trust in the world. 

As the Association approaches the centenary of its foundation 
it is not inappropriate to look back and see how the great wealth 
with which the Baron entrusted JCA in his lifetime and by his 
will has been used to carry out his wishes for the resettlement of 
Jews on the land or for their relief in other ways from poverty, 
persecution and misery. 

JCA was only one of many recipients of the Baron's charitable 
outlay. The Alliance Israelite Universelle of Paris, the Baron de 
Hirsch Fund of New York and the Baron de Hirsch Stiftung of 
Vienna were likewise beneficiaries. He set up a personal charitable 
service to relieve the victims of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877. 
The winnings of his horse-racing in England - £40,000 in 1892 
alone - went to the London hospitals. Kurt Grunwald, writing 
in Tiirkenhirsch, calculated that he made charitable donations in 
his lifetime and by will in excess of US$100 milHon (which today 
might have a purchasing power of $2,500 million). 

These charitable activities were largely concentrated into the 
last ten years of the Baron's life, and his wife was associated with 
them. Even if he was not faithful as a husband, he was singularly 
happy in his marriage, and his wife Clara showed sufficient large- 
ness of heart to refer in her will to his two illegitimate children 
as her 'adopted children' and to make provision for them on top 



of what he had given them in his hfetime. It may be regarded as 
a human vanity on his part that he cultivated royalty and nobihty 
with assiduity and that, having achieved success, he applied 
himself with enthusiasm to owning a horse-racing stable, to 
shooting and to other activities which gave him a social back- 
ground that went with his fortune. During his working hfe he 
had made his homes at different times in Munich, Brussels and 
Paris and had also had to spend much time in Constantinople. 
After his retirement he divided his time between his residence in 
Paris, his estate at Beauregard near Versailles, his large shooting 
estate, Schloss St Johann in Hungary, and his properties m 
Moravia. In England he would rent a house in London and a 
shooting lodge in East Angha. 

When the Baron founded JCA, it was natural that the seven 
signatories of the original Memorandum of Association should 
include, apart from himself, so many of the 'grand dukes' of 
British and French Jewry. They were in fact Lord Rothschild, Sir 
Julian Goldsmid, Bt, Sir Benjamin Cohen, Bt, Sir Ernest Cassel, 
Bt, Monsieur S. H. Goldschmidt (President of AIU), Monsieur 
Salomon Reinach of Paris and Mr F D. Mocatta. Of the original 
20,000 shares mJCA, Maurice de Hirsch was allotted 19,991, and 
he devoted much of his time in the last four years of his life to 
the direction of the Association's affairs. His shareholding, by his 
direction, was distributed to the Alliance Israelite Universelle, 
the Anglo-Jewish Association and the Jewish Communities of 
Brussels, Berlin and Frankfurt. 

By its constitution the government of JCA is vested in a 
Council of Administration whose membership over the years can 
be seen in Appendix A. Originally drawn entirely from Jewry of 
England, France, Belgium and Germany, it is now composed of 
members from England, France, Belgiurn, Israel and the United 
States. \ 

Much of the day-to-day administration bfJCA is dealt with on 
a delegated basis by the President (the names of the Presidents 
over the years are set out in Appendix B). World Jewry owes a 
great debt, however, to those who have over more than 90 years 
administered the affairs of the Association, and here I am referring 
to its staff. JCA has operated in the past on a world scale, and 
with its agricultural settlement work, its activity in vocational 
schools and in loan kassas and the many other aspects of its 
mission of helping poor and needy Jews, has employed many 
hundreds, perhaps thousands, of staff members in different coun- 
tries. Some of those people paid with their Hves for their loyalty 
to the Jewish community. I have in mind particularly those 
working m the USSR right up to 1938, when the Soviet authori- 



ties clamped down on the activities ofJCA and its staff in that 
country disappeared without a trace. I am also thinking of the 
staff members in Germany and Eastern Europe at the start of the 
Second World War who were victims of the Holocaust along 
with the Jewish communities whom they served. 

Among the staff of JCA were many men of distinction and of 
devotion to their vocation of relieving poor Jews who were the 
victims of man's inhumanity to man. The first Director of JCA, 
who served from the time of its incorporation until 1911, was Dr 
Sigismond Sonnenfeld, previously the Baron's 'General Agent'. 
Monsieur Louis Oungre, Director for many years, is referred to 
frequently in this book; he left his mark on the activities of JCA 
today, not least by reviving the Association's presence in Palestine 
in the 1930s. Other past Directors were Mr Emile Meyerson and 
Mr Victor Girmounsky (happily still alive), to whom JCA owes 
a special debt of gratitude. Vice-Directors included Monsieur 
Edouard Oungre, Mr Schmoll and Mr Mirkin, all life-long serv- 
ants of JCA. 

Up to the outbreak of the Second World War the JCA Head 
Office was in Paris, notwithstanding that the Association is in 
form an English company. There, a staff of some 20 people were 
employed. There were also employees in Russia, where there was 
a Head Office in Moscow, under the supervision first of Mr J. 
Blum and later Mr Sachs, as well as offices in Poland under Mr 
Knobelman, in Romania (Bessarabia) under Mr Trachtman, in 
Argentina under the direction successively of Messrs Starkmeth, 
Weil and Calius, in Brazil under Messrs Raffalovich, Leitchic, 
Schall and Eisenberg, in Canada under Messrs Belkin and Lister, 
and in Palestine/Israel where the names of Mr Chaim Kalvarisky 
and Mr Charles Passman will long be remembered as pioneers of 
JCA's work in that country. Mention should also be made of Mr 
Aronstein, who was for a time co-Director with Mr Girmounsky 
of JCA's world-wide activities and had also served in Argentina. 

I give this catalogue of names without apology; for without its 
staff JCA would have been nothing, and without the ability and 
dedication of its senior executives the quality of its work would 
have been gravely depreciated. 

After Paris was overrun in 1940 the management was located 
in New York. In 1949 the Head Office was removed to London, 
where it has remained. The Association's affairs are run from 
there with the greatest economy by a staff of four, and by a staff 
in Israel of seven. 

JCA was not founded by Baron de Hirsch with an obligation 
to be a perpetual charity. There is nothing in its constitution 
which requires it to maintain its capital intact and spend only its 



income. Over the years much of the Baron's magnificent found- 
ation has been spent in doing those things which he wished to be 
done. Confiscations, inflation and recession have also taken their 
toll, so that, although the capital is still of approximately the same 
nominal value, its real value is sadly eroded. If JCA can operate 
now only on a much reduced scale, it can look back on its past 
with pride and to its future with a determination to apply in the 
best possible way what resources are left to it. The Association 
has never appealed to the Jewish public for money, but if it is to 
maintain a meaningful presence among the Jewish philanthropic 
bodies of the world it now needs to do so. 

In a retrospect of JCA's labours over 90 years, one cannot fail 
to be impressed by the grandeur of Baron Maurice de Hirsch's 
concept of what should be done to help 'poor and needy Jews'; 
saddened by the shortfall between concept and achievement; and 
grateful for what has nevertheless been achieved on a world-wide 
scale through his philanthropy. 

December 1983 



I am grateful to the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) for 
its help to me in connection with the preparation and pubHcation 
of this book. In addition, the Association has borne some of the 
publishing costs. Mr Joseph Neville, Director of JCA from 1971 
to 1979 and on its staff for many years before, and the Hon. 
L. H. L. Cohen, President of JCA, read the manuscript and made 
many useful corrections. 

The book, good or bad as it may be, is my own, which is not 
to imply I was not helped. I am glad now to acknowledge the 
assistance of a number of people. First, I have to pay tribute to 
Mrs Bertha Spector, who was able to read and transcribe what 
seemed to me an interminable and illegible manuscript, written 
(and overwritten) with a thick black pencil on legal pads. I thank 
Mr Nicholson Smith, who assisted with the organisation and 
language of Chapter 10 on Poland and Eastern Europe. Mr Joseph 
Neville afforded inestimable help by searching through thousands 
of pages of JCA records to extract needed information, and as 1 
have indicated, he read and edited the entire manuscript with the 
greatest care. He also contributed to the Preface and Appendices 
and the preparation of the maps and photographs. Suffice it to 
say that this book would probably never have seen the light of 
day without his unfailing and cheerfully rendered assistance. Any 
errors that remain are, of course, my responsibility. 

I wish to thank Mr Victor Girmounsky, for many years 
Director-General of JCA, and Mr Jacques Rosemblum, retired 
staff member, for the time they spent in interviews. Dr Maurice 
Hexter, a member of the JCA Council since 1952, was most 
generous and helpful in sharing his many memories. 

I also would like to express gratitude to the members of JCA's 
London staff - Mr Charles Rappaport, the Director, Mr Juhan 
Kay, his assistant, Mr Leshe Dayan, the accountant, and Miss 
ElaiAe Garwood, secretary - for their unflagging courtesy and 

I have deliberately omitted any bibhography as, apart trom 
the works referred to in the Notes, it would have hsted almost 



exclusively JCA-generated materials - the Annual Reports, which 
began in 1891; many staff reports, such as those written by Louis 
Oungre, Director-General from 1910 to 1949, Georges Aronstein, 
D. Mirkin and others; memoranda and minutes of meetings; and 
the unpublished history of JCA's activities in Argentina by Lazaro 
Schallman, a JCA staff member. Incidentally, matters not noted 
but attributed to a particular year are described in the Annual 
Report for that year. There are however notes for non-JCA 
sources and, when it seemed appropriate, for JCA sources as well. 
As Mr Cohen points out in the Foreword, JCA was in its time, 
as stated in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (vol. XIII, 1910, p. 525), 
■probably the greatest charitable trust in the world' How this 
enormous Fund was deployed and how usefully will become 
clear, I hope, in the pages that follow. 

August 1983 T. N. 



The Jewish Colonization Association (JCA) was one of the first 
highly organised, well endowed and long enduring of charitable 
institutions. Its history presents a great many differing, but inter- 
connected, facets. 

1 The most obvious way of looking at it is to regard it as a 
great philanthropic enterprise, as it assuredly was and still is. But 
it was a philanthropic enterprise with a new look. As the Baron 
de Hirsch, its founder, said: 

I contend against the old system of alms-giving which only 
makes so many more beggars; and I consider the greatest 
problem in philanthropy is to make human beings who are 
capable of work, who would otherwise become paupers, 
into useful members of society. 

In other words, he was opposed to the nineteenth-century or 
older concept of charity as a dole, a hand-out to 'the deserving 
poor'. He wanted instead to employ his bounty to make its 
recipients self-supporting citizens. In fact, his original concept 
was that the Association's colonists in Argentina should repay its 
costs in full. In the event this proved to be impossible, but thous- 
ands of the Jewish settlers did pay very substantial sums to JCA 
for the property transferred to them. 

2 JCA carried out one of the first experiments in planned migra- 
tion on a large scale. It is hard to think of any comparable 
programme that was not implemented by a governmental or 
international agency. Questions can certainly be raised as to the 
degree of JCA's success, as so many of the families placed on 
farms in Argentina, Brazil and Canada moved on elsewhere, but 
there is no doubt that the Association's efforts helped to open 
these countries to Jewish immigrants; for, in addition to those 
whom it placed initially on farms, there was a much larger 
number whom it helped to cross the Atlantic - tens of thousands 
from Russia and Romania before the First World War - through 
its network of committees in those countries and in the countries 
of transit. Likewise, after the Second World War, JCA, on its 


own or in conjunction with other agencies, helped refugees from 
Russia, emigrants from Poland and victims of Nazism to move 
from Europe to locations overseas. Thus JCA's activities consti- 
tute an important chapter in the endless history of Jewish migra- 
tion from one country to another. 

3 In many ways JCA was an important innovator. The system 
of loan kassas {caisse in French - a small savings and loan associ- 
ation) that it built up in Russian Poland and Bessarabia before 
the First World War, and which afterwards was expanded in 
collaboration with the Joint Distribution Committee QDC), was 
a major instrument of rehabilitation and relief for the depressed 
Jewish populations in Eastern Europe during the inter-war period. 
And again after the Second World War, pursuing the same objects 
and methods, JDC estabhshed a network of kassas in Eastern 

4 JCA's work can be viewed as the culmination, or at least the 
most extensive example geographically and vocationally 
speaking, of the so-called 'productivisation' movement which had 
great influence among Jews in the nineteenth century. This was 
based on the notion that anti-Semitism would decline, or even 
disappear, if Jews were to become engaged in manual labour, 
producing tangible goods instead of being traders and money- 
lenders or, even worse, 'lufimentschen with no visible means of 
sustenance. Thus they would become indistinguishable from the 
people among whom they lived and not be denigrated and perse- 
cuted by xenophobic neighbours. (One ironic aspect of the 
'productivisation' theory was that, while there were doubtless 
many Jewish tradesmen, money-lenders and even lufimentschen in 
Eastern Europe, a large proportion of the artisans in that area 
were also Jewish. They were known as schlusslers, 'locksmiths', a 
word that covered a variety of other occupations.) Also, from the 
latter part of the eighteenth century, there came the behef that 
farming was the most honourable of all occupations. Thomas 
Jefferson, who frequently extolled the benefits of rural life as 
contrasted with the evil influence of cities, was the great American 
exemplar of this ideology, which he shared with the eighteenth- 
century French physiocrats. The Baron de Hirsch, with his almost 
compulsive feeling that Jews should become farmers, was 
obviously a fervent believer in this particular form of 

5 It is often said that all Jews are brothers, or at least that all 
Jews feel responsible for one another. Certainly JCA exemplifies 
this maxim; for it was administered by a Council composed of 
wealthy, highly placed Western European Jews who manifested 
by word and deed their concern for their co-rehgionists in Eastern 



Europe. These co-religionists were in many respects - their 
fervent orthodoxy, their education, which was restricted to the 
Talmud and the Torah, their language (Yiddish) and their whole 
view of the world - utterly alien to the members of the JCA 
Council. Despite this, the Council were more than accessible to 
their pleas for help, for the Association not infrequently went to 
the succour of needy Jews before being asked. 

6 'An institution is but the lengthened shadow of a man' is a 
chche that can certainly be apphed to JCA, especially in its first 
years when the Baron de Hirsch ran it almost single-handed. Its 
emphasis on planting immigrants on farms rather than opting for 
any other vocation resulted from the Baron's physiocratic views, 
which dominated the Association's policy during his lifetime and 
greatly influenced it afterwards. For example, in 1897, after the 
Baron's death, one of the Argentine colonies sent a deputation to 
the Paris headquarters of JCA to urge that clothing be manufac- 
tured in the colony to occupy its members, especially the women 
and children, during the winter season when farming tasks were 
light. In turning down this seemingly reasonable request the JCA 
office emphasised its intention to maintain the agricultural nature 
of its settlements. 

7 Lastly, the story of JCA can be regarded as a wild, romantic 
adventure without precedent. In fact, it was an adventurous, 
gambling streak in the Baron's character that accounted for his 
plunging his wealth into the hazardous enterprise of building 
railways in Turkey a hundred years ago. When this project made 
him a millionaire many times over, it was equally bold and ven- 
turesome of him to pluck up thousands of ill-prepared Russian 
Jews and fling them down on the raw, uncultivated pampas, 
where the only human inhabitants were gauchos who spoke only 
a sort of Spanish and whose occupation was to guard roaming 
herds of half-wild cattle. This venture, and the others that 
followed it, is now related in the history of the Jewish Coloniz- 
ation Association. 



In the 1880s and 1890s the situation of Russian Jewry, miserable 
at best and punctuated by pogroms at worst, was the major 
concern of the world Jewish community. The reaction of the 
Baron de Hirsch was to attempt to move large numbers of Jews 
out of Russia and establish them as farmers in a free country. 
The Jewish Colonization Association, which the Baron formally 
established in 1891, carried out his policy by transporting thou- 
sands of Russian Jewish families and settling them on farms in 
Argentina. Later the work of agricultural settlement was extended 
to Brazil, Canada and the United States, and even on a small scale 
to Turkey and Cyprus. Concomitant with this activity up to the 
First World War was the organisation of the orderly emigration 
of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe, while the larger numbers 
who remained behind in those countries were assisted through 
education, vocational training, loans schemes for artisans and help 
of various kinds for farmers. After the Baron's death in 1896, the 
Association started helping some settlements in Palestine which 
had been set up in the 1880s, and eventually took over the admin- 
istration of the colonies established by the Baron Edmond de 
Rothschild. In all of these efforts, JCA was concerned not only 
with the economic interests of the people affected but also with 
their social, cultural, physical and spiritual well-being. 


The Baron de Hirsch and Russian 


In 1891, 900 Russian Jews intending to settle in Palestine arrived 
in Constantinople. At this stage of their journey they were 
informed by the Turkish authorities (Palestine then was part of 
the Ottoman Empire) that they would not be given permission 
to emigrate to that country. 

The travellers were in an agonising dilemma. Having already 
sold their homes and belongings, they could not face the thought 
of returning to Russia; neither could they remain in Turkey; and 
they did not have the money to pay for a journey to settle 
elsewhere - and indeed, where would that 'elsewhere' be? The 
members of Constantinople's Jewish community were almost 
equally agonised, for they had already begun making contribu- 
tions to take care of some of the 900, but this was too large a 
group to be supported for any length of time by the small 
indigenous Jewish population. Not knowing what better to do 
they cabled the Baron de Hirsch in Pans, telling him of the 
desperate circumstances of the Russians. In short order the Baron 
replied, authorising their transport to France, whence they would 
be sent to Argentina, where the Jewish Colonization Association 
QCA), just created by the Baron, had initiated the settlement of 
Jews on the empty pampas. The 900 were duly shipped to Argen- 
tina, where they had further misadventures before their eventual 
arrival at JCA's farm colonies. But the point was that at this time 
of acute emergency the Baron was called upon to help his fellow 
Jews - and he responded. 

Again, in July 1893 a sizeable group of Jewish refugees reached 
the Baltic port of Libau - and were caught there with no means 
of hving or leaving. In this extremity they sent a telegram to 
David Feinberg, who was the Secretary of JCA's Russian 
committee in St Petersburg. Feinberg immediately communicated 
with the Baron de Hirsch, and without delay the Baron sent a 
draft for 200,000 marks to the Libau group. When he was apprised 
of this Feinberg grumbled that the people in Libau had received 
more money than they needed. But, again, the Baron's response 



was almost automatic; the information that a group of Jews was 
in trouble was enough to evoke instant action. 

A similar situation arose as Jewish emigration from Russia to 
Canada (as to the USA and elsewhere) increased through the 
1880s. The Young Men's Hebrew Benevolent Society of Montreal 
(YMHBS) took upon itself the task of meeting the incoming ships 
and caring for the new arrivals, but as emigration grew so did 
expenditures, and so did the need for additional funds. The 
creation of the Baron de Hirsch Fund in New York in 1890 (it 
was not formally incorporated until February 1891) inspired the 
Canadians to appeal for help to the Baron in May 1890. They 
were surprised by the promptness and generosity of his reply: he 
said he might assist them in the future (he did), but for the present 
was enclosing a cheque for $20,000. 

Of all the appeals that were made to the Baron's generosity, 
however, the most important was that by Dr Wilhelm Lowenthal 
in 1890. 

In July 1889 some 120 famihes of Russian Jews (numbering 
about 800 individuals) landed in Buenos Aires, under the impres- 
sion that they had title deeds to plots of land in up-country 
Argentina. The transaction had been consummated through the 
mediation of an office in Paris maintained by the Argentine 
government to encourage immigration into that vast, underpopu- 
lated land. When the weary travellers disembarked from their 
ship, they were horrified to learn that their contracts were invalid, 
that the papers they had received were worthless. Their situation 
was serious in the extreme - strangers in a strange city, where the 
language was incomprehensible to them, and with such money as 
they had melting away to pay for maintaining themselves. Public- 
spirited members of the small Jewish community in Buenos Aires 
came to the rescue of the miserable 'Podolians' (so named because 
they came from Podolia in Russian Poland) and arranged for them 
to buy a tract of land from a large land owner, Dr Pedro Palacios. 
It was located in Santa Fe province, on the railway some hundreds 
of miles northwest of the Argentine capital. Palacios promised 
that, in addition to the land, he would provide housing, equip- 
ment and provisions until such time as the Podolians could grow 
their own crops. When they arrived at Palacios station (the railway 
station and the estate were also called Palacios), the immigrants 
were thunderstruck for a second time; there was no housing, only 
a couple of old empty freight cars and an abandoned warehouse 
for shelter; there was no food and no tools. 

The PodoHans lived - if that is the appropriate word - some 
out in the open (and this was in the middle of the rainy season), 
without food, which they had to beg from passing travellers or 


scavenge from the leavings of the dining cars of the trains that 
went through Palacios. It was hardly surprising that under these 
conditions 50-60 children died. Fortunately, one of the travellers 
who passed through the station and was deeply affected by their 
situation was a Dr Wilhelm Lowenthal. He was a Romanian 
Jew who had attended medical school in Germany, had made a 
reputation as a sociologist in that country, and had been engaged 
by the Argentine government to make a survey. Lowenthal was 
horrifed by what he saw, and as soon as he got to Buenos Aires 
he told the Argentine authorities about the plight of the Podohans. 
Pressure was brought on Palacios to supply the unhappy settlers 
with some of the things that had been promised. 

In addition, and in the long run more important, this incident 
caused Lowenthal to think about the whole question of how best 
to help masses of Russian Jews leave their oppressive homeland. 
He concluded that a planned migration to Argentina to settle Jews 
as farmers on the empty pampas offered a reasonable means of 
escape for thousands of them. When he returned to Europe he 
formulated a plan along these lines. It was obvious to him where 
to present it. Through the mediation of the Alliance IsraeHte 
Universelle,! he put his proposal to the Baron de Hirsch, whose 
name was already widely known throughout the Jewish world 
because of his vast benefactions and his efforts to help the be- 
leaguered Russian Jews. 

The Baron de Hirsch 

Who was this great, rich and generous Baron whom Jews turned 
to a hundred years ago when they were in trouble — and who 
seemingly could be counted on for a helpful and open-handed 

Moritz von Hirsch was born in 1831 in Bavaria. That the Jewish 
family into which he was born had a 'von' in its name signifies 
how far his grandparents had come in distinguishing themselves 
as bankers to the Bavarian royal court and as successful busi- 
nessmen; Jews did not obtain official honours in Germany, either 
then or later, without manifesting exceptional ability and a fair 
amount of aggression. The patent of nobility was granted to Jacob 
Hirsch, the grandfather of Moritz, in 1818, enabling him to place 
'von' before his name, because his banking skill had been of great 
use to the reigning family of Bavaria. His ennoblement was in 
fact the end result of the purchase of an estate that carried with 
it judicial powers. Only members of the nobihty 'were entitled 
to administer justice'; so Jacob petitioned to be ennobled. 


producing a very impressive list of assets as proof of his 

The Hirsches -Joseph, the father of Moritz, as well as Jacob - 
were involved in many other legal proceedings to establish their 
rights as citizens. Many of these cases were being actively pursued 
during Moritz's youth, so that, though born to wealth, he was 
early on made acutely aware of the disabiHties that even rich Jews 
attached to the Court could suffer. He also was exposed to other, 
more agreeable, aspects of Judaism, for the family home contained 
a small synagogue and he received a thorough grounding in 
Jewish history and rehgious practice. 

Moritz von Hirsch (or Maurice de Hirsch, as we shall call him^) 
must have been a very lively and adventuresome young man, but 
he also had a precocious business sense. In his fourteenth year he 
was sent to Brussels to study, and three years later he went to 
work in the Bischoffsheim and Goldschmidt bank in that city. 
This was one of the most important banking institutions in 
Belgium, with branches in Paris and London. In 1855, at the age 
of 24, he married Clara Bischoffsheim, daughter of his senior 
partner. She brought with her an appropriately handsome dowry, 
as well as a noble and generous spirit and a knowledge of business 
practices, for she had served as her father's secretary for some 
years. She also brought an understanding of the Jewish situation, 
for her father, in addition to being a leading banker, v/as much 
involved in Jewish affairs - among other things he was a member 
of the Central Committee of the Alliance Israelite Universelle. 

After his marriage Hirsch worked in bis father-in-law's firm 
for a while, but he soon launched into banking on his own, 
particularly involving himself in railway finance. Of this period 
in his life Grunwald, his biographer, says: 

Between 1848, when as a lad of seventeen Hirsch began to 
interest himself in railway ventures, and 1869, when he 
obtained the concession from the Ottoman government which 
was to turn him into one of the tycoons of the century, he 
apparently had acquired widespread railway interests, of 
which, however, only a few are known. ^ 

These interests included railway construction in Russia, Hungary 
and Austria. 

Of Hirsch's many business relationships, most interesting was 
that with one Langrand-Dumonceau, financier, entrepreneur and 
adventurer, whose ambition was to 'christianise capital' by 
putting CathoHc enterprises on a par with Protestant and Jewish 
ones, an aim that had great appeal to the priesthood. In the 
course of initiating 'Christian' financial, railway and insurance 



companies, he found it necessary as a practical matter at times to 
collaborate with Jewish firms or individuals. Alas, neither his 
piety nor his collaboration could prevent Langrand's bubble from 
bursting. In 1870, his numerous companies in collapse, he fled to 
Brazil. Out of the wreckage of Langrand's bankrupt empire, 
Hirsch was able to obtain one valuable asset, or more accurately 
what could become a valuable asset; namely, a concession to 
build railways in Turkey, linking up with the European network 
through Austria. There are several versions of how Hirsch 
acquired the concession; according to one, he 'bought' Daoud 
Pasha, the Turkish Minister of Public Works, who then resigned 
and never went back to Turkey. "^ 

The idea of a connection between the European railway system 
and Constantinople, and perhaps going even farther east (the 
Berlin-to-Baghdad line was a treasured aim of German diplomacy 
before the First World War), had been entertained by many 
statesmen, particularly in Austria. Hirsch himself had apparently 
long had in mind a plan for a rail link between Vienna and 
Constantinople. Once he had the Turkish concession, he tried to 
interest the Austrian railways in extending their lines to meet his 
projected Turkish ones. Although at first the South Austrian 
Railway seemed willing to fall in with his plans, in the summer 
of 1869 'negotiations failed . . . owing to the resistance of the 
Viennese House of Rothschild'. ^ 

Hirsch therefore evolved an alternative means of obtaining 
capital, through Turkish government bonds. While such securities 
were a drug on the European market, those issued to pay for the 
construction of the railway had a special feature, for their holders 
could participate in a two-monthly lottery offering several prizes. 
Hirsch acquired the bonds from the Turkish government at a 
large discount on their face value and marketed them through a 
syndicate at a substantial profit in two issues in 1870 and 1872. 
In 1875 the Turkish government, in even more stringent financial 
straits than usual, stopped payment on the bonds until 1881, when 
Turkey's debts were reorganised. One of the most bizarre aspects 
of the whole affair was the failure of some of the lottery winners, 
who had gained prizes of 300,000 and even 600,000 francs, to 
claim their prizes. 

The financial issue having been more or less settled, Hirsch set 
up a construction company and an operating company. So rapidly 
did work proceed that by 1872 some of the track was already 
in operation. In 1871 a new Turkish vizier (premier) had been 
appointed; in contrast to his predecessor, under whom the original 
arrangements for Hirsch's railways had been negotiated, this one 
was anti-German and anti-Austrian but pro-Russian. He tried 



to have the concession cancelled, but Hirsch fought back, with 
gratuities judiciously distributed, ^ and in the end a compromise 
was reached, reducing his concession from 2,500 to 1,179 kilome- 
tres. This reduction may not have been entirely to Hirsch's dis- 
pleasure, for it absolved him of the task of building railways over 
some very rough, hilly Balkan country. By 1874 the work on 
the reduced concession was completed. The Turkish government 
itself undertook to build the uncompleted parts of the line but 
proved unable to do so, and it was not until 1883 that Austria- 
Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey were able to sign an agree- 
ment that led to the completion of a link between Vienna and 

Hirsch's profit on the bond sale was variously estimated at 
between 255 and 285 million francs. Grunwald estimates the cost 
of construction at about 180 million, leaving a net figure of 75-105 
million. To this must be added 50 milHon francs of operating 
profits over ten years, making a grand total of 125-155 million 
francs in profit. From the estimate below it can be seen what this 
sum, equivalent at the time to £5 milhon to £6 milhon sterling, 
would be worth at present, even reduced, as it had to be, by 
immense overhead expenses, including baksheesh. Whatever the 
profit was, as Grunwald says, 

it was hard earned. It would be unjust to forget the greatness 
of the conception, the tremendous hard work, diligence and 
intelligence, and particularly the most remarkable persistence, 
shown by this little banker from Brussels in order to plan, 
direct and almost single-handed complete such an important 
and useful enterprise, in the midst of bitter hostilities and 
most serious difficulties in a semi-barbarian country such as 
Turkey then was.^ 

Hirsch had never intended to operate the railway he had built, 
but had been forced to do so by the lack of any alternative. When 
in 1890 the arrangements had been made for it to become part of 
a larger entity and the accounts with the Turkish government had 
been settled, he transferred the control of the company, through 
the sale of the shares he held, to the Deutsche Bank. 

Not only had Hirsch acquired a vast amount of cash in all 
these transactions; he was also by this time the owner of many 
businesses and of great houses and estates in France, England and 
Austria-Hungary. His fortune was estimated to be between £16 
milhon and £30 million sterling, or $80 to $150 million, which 
in today's terms would be worth between £1,940 milhon and 
£3,630 milhon. 8 

The Baron had also become a member of the social circle of 



the Prince of Wales (Queen Victoria's son, later King Edward 
VII). He had, in fact, bought his way in; he loaned Prince Rudolf 
of Austria 100,000 gulden to introduce him to the English prince, 
and apparently won his way into the latter's good graces by 
lending him very handsome sums and never thinking of, let alone 
asking for, repayment. The pinnacle of social acceptance was 
however denied him: Queen Victoria would not receive him.' He 
was refused membership of a certain French club also; so he 
bought its premises and forced the club to vacate. According to 
one legend, it was the French Jockey Club that blackballed Hirsch, 
and after he acquired their building he used it to stable his horses. 
As befitted a man who moved in high society, he owned a 
successful string of racehorses, but significantly he donated all his 
winnings to charity. 

The Baron and Baroness had two children, a daughter who 
died in infancy, and a son, Lucien, born in 1856, who died of 
pneumonia in 1887 at the age of 31. While Lucien had not shown 
any inclination for business, having been interested in books, 
manuscripts and coins and not in making money, it may well be 
that his death deprived the Baron of any lingering hope that his 
heir might be persuaded to undertake a business career, and that 
this influenced him to sell his Turkish railway shares in 1890. In 
any case, Lucien's death did seem to stimulate his already manifest 
interest in performing good works. His standard reply to persons 
commiserating with him on the loss of his son was: '1 have lost 
my son but not my heir; all humanity is my heir. ' 

It is quite likely that it was the beneficent Clara who persuaded 
the Baron to look into the situation of the poor Jews in Turkey 
and the Balkans, i" and this, in turn, had some influence on his 
decision to join the Alliance IsraeHte. In December 1873 he 
donated 1 milUon francs for the Alliance's educational programme 
in Turkey. He was elected to its Central Committee in 1876, and 
then, to quote another of his biographers. 

From 1879 onwards he contributed an annual 50,000 francs 
for the Artisans' Training Scheme of the Alliance. After 1882 
he undertook to meet the considerable annual deficit of the 
AIU which over the years ran into several hundred thousand 
francs, thus safeguarding the independence of the 
organisation. In 1889 he replaced these annual contributions 
by setting up a Fund which secured the Alliance an annual 
income of 400,000 francs. In 1882 he contributed another 
million francs to an Emergency Fund for refugees who had 
been victims of the Russian pogroms. It is estimated that up 



to his death in 1896 Baron de Hirsch had donated a minimum 
of 12 million francs to the Alhance alone. " 

In addition to these great gifts to the Alliance, which devoted 
much of its effort to educating and otherwise helping Jews m the 
Middle East, the Baron was assisting the Israehtische Allianz of 
Vienna in its educational work. His own acquaintance with 
Austria and Hungary and the influence of the Chief Rabbi of 
Vienna led him to estabhsh a foundation, the Baron de Hirsch 
Stiftung, to provide funds for building schools, primarily voca- 
tional, in GaUcia and Bukovina (then the northeast segment of 
the Hapsburg Empire), to teach Jewish artisans and farmers their 
trade and to make loans to such persons. This foundation was set 
up with a grant of 12 million kronen in 1888, but the anti-Semitic 
Austrian government delayed its formal incorporation until 1891. 
The Baron also opened welfare agencies in Vienna, Budapest, 
Lemberg and Cracow which he provided with an annual budget 
of 120,000 florins to assist poor people and to make interest-free 
loans. '2 

However, his great benefactions to the Alliance and in Austria 
were eclipsed in the end by the magnitude of his gifts for the 
benefit of the 5 million Russian Jews who constituted the largest 
mass of suffering Jews in the world. The task of trying to alleviate 
this suffering proved to be of sufficient interest for the Baron 
to engage his full attention on it, and the full exercise of his 
administrative and negotiating skills, for the rest of his life. 

Jews in nineteenth-century Russia 

During the Middle Ages some Jews had migrated to the northern 
shores of the Black Sea because they had been the subjects of 
oppression by the Byzantine emperors. When this area became 
part of Russia in about the fifteenth century, the Jews, being 
comparatively few in number, were left undisturbed but were 
forbidden to reside in Russia proper. At the end of the eighteenth 
century, however, when Poland was partitioned, with Russia 
getting the lion's share, upwards of 3 milHon Jews in Poland, 
Lithuania, the western Ukraine and Bessarabia became subjects 
of the Czar. These areas were constituted the 'Pale of Settlement' 
within which Jews were obhged to live. The centre of Russia, 
including St Petersburg and Moscow, was forbidden to them, 
except under the most stringent conditions. Czar Alexander I 
(1801-25) made some gestures toward Hberalising the regulations 
affecting Jews but was disappointed when these did not result in 



any great rush to convert to Christianity. His brother and 
successor, Nicholas I (1825-55), was a flagrant anti-Semite who 
made oppression of the Jewish population one of the major themes 
of his administration, promulgating a number of anti-Semitic 
ukases, against the opposition of his own ministers who pointed 
to the economic harm that would result. In 1836 a plan to settle 
Jewish famihes in Siberia was approved, and thousands of people 
started to move there. But while they were en route Nicholas 
changed his mind, ordered them seized and moved back, desti- 
tute, to the Pale of Settlement. In 1843 Jews were ordered out of 
the area along Russia's western border, and at the same time the 
army draft, which called for twenty-five years of service, was 
ordered to be enforced against Jews, even though they were 
required to pay the fees that ordinarily sufficed to procure exemp- 
tion. In 1855 Alexander II became Czar and, in accordance with 
his more liberal tendencies (it was he who freed the serfs), eased 
the restrictions upon Jews. But he was assassinated in 1881 and 
his successor, Alexander III, reverted to the attitudes of Nicholas. 
His government sought to turn opposition away from itself by 
encouraging, or at the very least permitting, a wave of pogroms 
which swept across southern Russia in 1881-2. Thousands ofjews 
fled in fear, and many of them arrived at the Austrian border 
town of Brody with no means of sustaining themselves. Their 
plight stirred western Jewry to action. The Alliance Israelite sent 
emissaries to give help; in London, the Mansion House 
Committee was formed which raised considerable sums to alle- 
viate the condition of the poor migrants. 

The Russian government, however, showed no mercy. Its 
commission of inquiry found that 'Jewish exploitation' was at the 
root of the pogroms. Therefore the 'May' Laws (of 1882) were 
instituted, which among other things prohibited Jews from living 
in villages, thus depriving them of the businesses by which they 
earned their living. Shortly afterwards the numerus clausus, limiting 
the access ofjews to secondary and higher schools, was put into 
effect. One of the most outrageous of all these anti-Semitic actions 
was the expulsion of thousands of Jewish artisan families from 
Moscow in 1891. Without warning, police and soldiers invaded 
their homes and dragged them out. But, indeed, 'the expulsion 
ofjews from towns and villages where they had lived peacefully 
during the reign of Alexander II . . . became a daily occurrence'." 
Pobiedonostsev, the head of the governing body of the Russian 
Orthodox Church, summed up official poHcy by declaring that, 
hopefully, 'one-third of the Jews will die, one-third will convert, 
and one-third will flee the country'. And flee the country they 



did: it is estimated that 2 million Jews left Russia between 1881 
and 1914. 

However, this vast exodus had little effect in reducing the 
Jewish population. There had been about 2V'2 million Jews in 
Russia in 1800; there were about twice as many in 1900 and, in 
spite of emigration, about the same number in 1914. The natural 
increase that brought about these results was indeed one of the 
causes of Jewish misery; for, confined to the Pale, unable to buy 
land and prevented from entry into professions, the effect of an 
increasing population was to intensify competition among Jewish 
traders and merchants and to reduce their already minuscule 

In 1894 a new Czar, Nicholas II, succeeded to the throne. There 
had been hopes that he would be more liberal than his predecessor, 
but in the event his reign turned out to be no better. The notorious 
Kishinev pogrom took place in 1903, and this was followed by 
several others in which the police and army units actively partici- 
pated. This wave of anti-Jewish riots and killing subsided in 
1906, but the government managed to devise further restrictive 
regulations and in 1913 to institute a blood libel trial in Kiev."" 
The czarist regime maintained its anti-Jewish stance until its very 
end. During the First World War, in 1915 and 1916, Jews were 
deported from the war zones and forced to give hostages for their 
good behaviour. 

The revolution of 1917 reversed this history. Jews were freed 
of all restrictions and became citizens equally with all other 
Russians. In the civil wars that followed, however, Jews, 
especially in the Ukraine, were again the victims of pogroms, 
and hundreds of thousands fled Russia. And anti-Semitic discrim- 
ination reappeared in the last years of Stalin's rule, to continue 
until now. 

The Baron and Russian Jewry 

We have listed the great gifts that the Baron made to the Alhance 
Israelite and his almost equal gifts to the Stiftung and other organi- 
sations in Austria-Hungary. However, it was the phght of the 
Jews in Russia, which intensified after the events of 1881, that 
gave the Baron the incentive to donate money on a scale never 
seen before. In 1881 he gave 1 million francs to the Emergency 
Fund. In that same year he sent two representatives, Charles 
Netter and Emile Veneziani, both of the Alhance, to Brody, the 
stopping place for the Jews fleeing from Russia; Veneziani is 



reputed to have distributed no less than 5 milHon francs on behalf 
of the Baron to the penniless Jews marooned there. 

The Baron, in conjunction with his friends in the Alliance, then 
focused on means of ameliorating the condition of the great mass 
of Jews remaining in Russia. He first came to believe that proper 
education was the best means of achieving this end. A plan was 
formulated whereby the Baron was to donate 50 million francs 
to the Russian government for the establishment of elementary 
and agricultural schools in the Pale. Not only would Jews receive 
education, but those who did would be placed on a 'basis of 
equality with Russian citizens'. ^^ in order to ease the transaction, 
the Baron gave 1 million francs to Pobiedonostsev, the leading 
(after the Czar) anti-Semite in Russia. That holy man was pleased 
to accept this pourboire; but the negotiations, pursued over a year, 
broke down because the Baron would not yield control over his 
proposed gift to the Russian government. Bold and adventurous 
he may have been, but he certainly would not take the risk of 
putting 50 million francs into the hands of the Czar's minions. 

This experience convinced the Baron that emigration was the 
only solution for the Russian Jews. (And, of course, a million of 
them had already come to the same conclusion - and left.) Some 
years after, the Baron wrote: 

The government of the Czar means to get rid of the five 
million Jews who inhabit Russian territory. Let it allow the 
many who, like himself, are interested in the fate of these 
victims of persecution and who certainly will be prepared to 
make the greatest sacrifices on their behalf, to save them. . . . 
Let a period of twenty years - let us say - be fixed; let it be 
agreed that every year a certain number of Jews will leave the 
country; but let them be left in peace until the hour of their 
departure arrives. If the Czar will order a measure of this 
character to be adopted, those who are interested in the fate 
of the Russian Jews will do what is necessary to provide funds 
for conveying to their new country the number of emigrants 
ordered to leave early. ^^ 

After the collapse of negotiations with the Czar's government, 
the Baron's next effort on behalf of Russian Jews took place, 
curiously enough, in the United States. Oscar Straus, who had 
been US Ambassador to Turkey and had become well acquainted 
with Hirsch during the course of the latter's activity there, 
presented the Baron with a letter written by Michael Heilprin 
(1823-88). Heilprin, a PoHsh-Hungarian Jew, had come to the 
United States in 1856 and had been very active in trying to 
persuade Russian Jews to settle on farm colonies. His document 



was a brief in support of the idea that immigrant Jews should be 
placed in agricultural or industrial settlements. He expected by 
this means to 'productivise' the mcoming Jews, as he did not 
beheve in unproductive charity. Neither did the Baron, who was 
so taken by Heilprin's arguments that in May 1889 he had the 
Secretary of the AUiance Israelite let a group of prominent 
American Jews know that he was prepared to set up an agency 
to help Russian and Romanian Jews emigrating to the United 
States. The Americans were somewhat hesitant to accept the 
Baron's offer, fearing to increase the influx of Russian Jews into 
the country, but in the end an agreement was reached to set 
up the Baron de Hirsch Fund in New York. It was formally 
incorporated in February 1891, with a grant of S2.4 million from 
the Baron. The Fund had a large number of purposes, the over- 
riding one being 'the education and relief of Hebrew emigrants 
from Russia and Romania' and their children. More specifically, 
the money was to be used for loans to farmers; for transport from 
the ports of arrival to a place where the immigrants could find 
employment; for training in mechanics, handicrafts and trades; 
and for 'instruction in the English language and in the duties 
and obhgations of life and citizenship in the United States, the 
establishment of schools if necessary for such training, and 
instruction in agriculture'. 

The Fund is, to this day, engaged in helping Jewish immigrants 
to the United States and Israel. This brief account of the American 
Fund would not be complete without noting that, for two years 
before it was legally incorporated, the Baron sent the Committee 
in New York $10,000 per month which it used to help 


The Beginning of the Jewish 
Colonization Association 

The Baron's offer of 50 million francs to the Czar's government 
and the breakdown of negotiations thereafter was well publicised 
in the European press. In addition, it was known through maga- 
zine and newspaper articles and interviews that the Baron was a 
physiocrat who believed in the regenerative powers of the soil, 
and that he had his own quite individualistic view of how philan- 
thropy should be dispensed. He had written: 'I contend against 
the old system of alms-giving, which only makes so many more 
beggars; and I consider the greatest problem in philanthropy is 
to make human beings who are capable of work, who would 
otherwise become paupers, into useful members of society.'' 
Clearly, by philanthropy the Baron meant providing poor people 
with the training and tools necessary to make them self-support- 
ing, and, even better, able to earn enough to repay their 

When Lowenthal returned to Europe in 1890, after his experi- 
ence with the 'Podolians', and started to compose a memorandum 
intended for the Baron proposing relief measures for the Jews of 
Russia, he stressed the good chmate, the good soil, the availabihty 
of land and the democratic nature of the government in Argentina, 
which he depicted as a haven where Russian Jews could become 
independent farmers. 

He also pointed out that the 50 miUion francs that presumably 
were burning a hole in the Baron's pocket could earn (with 
interest at 10 per cent) 5 milHon francs a year, and that 500 
famihes at a cost of 10,000 francs each could be settled annually in 
Argentina by use of the interest alone. He made it clear that his 
plan called for eventual repayment by the settlers, and suggested 
further that, because of his own interest in Eastern Jews and his 
background, he might be appointed head of the enterprise he was 

Lowenthal did not use his time in Europe only in writing to 
the Baron; he also solicited a gift from a rich German Jew to help 
the miserable 'Podolians', who by this time (December 1890) had 
moved from their wretched quarters at the railway station to the 



lands they were supposed to be buying. They named this settle- 
ment Moisesville, in honour not of Maurice (Moses) de Hirsch, 
as has sometimes been asserted, but of the biblical Moses, the 
'father of us all' 

While some of his associates at the Alliance had their doubts, 
the Baron was taken with Lowenthal's proposal. The idea of 
'productivising' poor Jews through employment in agriculture 
was both famiHar and agreeable to him; agreeable also was the 
notion that the cost of transport and installation on farms could 
in the end be repaid. Settlement in Argentina was a new thought, 
but on consideration it seemed reasonable. ^ 

Argentina had a small population, about 3 million, and a great 
deal of land to which the government was eager to bring immi- 
grants. The Baron even toyed with the idea of buying an entire 
province in which an autonomous Jewish state could be estab- 
lished. As a prehminary he sent out an exploratory expedition, 
consisting of Lowenthal himself a Belgian army colonel, 
Vanvinckeroy, and an EngHsh engmeer, Cullen. Early in 1891 
the emissaries returned with a favourable report, which 
strengthened the Baron's original impulse to proceed. 

He realised however that a decision about a destination for 
Russian Jews was not sufficient; he also had to make arrangements 
to get them out of Russia, because that country officially forbade 
emigration (though obviously thousands of Jews and others had 
succeeded in leaving). As his representative for this purpose the 
Baron chose Arnold White, an English Member of Parhament 
and journalist. Everyone who has written about this episode 
comments on the curious nature of the Baron's choice, for White 
was a well known anti-Semite. Yet the Baron knew what he was 
doing: he said that it was for this very reason that an affirmative 
report from White would carry weight. White turned out to be 
an excellent choice. With David Feinberg he toured the areas in 
southern Russia where Jews had been established in agricultural 
colonies in the early nineteenth century and brought back enthus- 
iastic reports about their character in general and their adaptability 
to agriculture in particular. More important, on a second visit to 
Moscow he induced the Czar's government, which at that very 
moment was considering further restrictions on Jews, and had 
recently expelled the Jewish artisans from Moscow, to make three 
concessions. The government agreed (1) to permit the Baron to 
establish local committees in Russia to assist would-be emigrants; 
(2) to grant passports without charge to the emigrants and exempt 
them from the army draft; (3) to provide free, or at least especially 
cheap, transport. When one considers the hermetic nature of the 
Russian regime at that time (not so different from now), they 



really were acting with remarkable liberality, according to their 
hghts. The attitude adopted by the Russians may have been the 
result of the utterly illusory magnitude of the estimates that White 
submitted concerning the projected rate of emigration - 20,000 
per annum in the first few years, then 100,000 per year. In twenty- 
five years it was expected that over 3 million Jews, a majority of 
those then living in Russia, would leave the country. 

The Baron's proposals were officially approved in May 1892 
and a Committee headed by Baron Horace de Giinzburg, a 
wealthy banker and the best known Jew in Russia at the time, 
was established, with David Feinberg as executive secretary. One 
of its members was J. Poliakoff, a major railway builder in Russia, 
one of whose relatives later married a relative of the Baron. In 
1891, while White was negotiating in Russia, the Baron took 
another giant step towards realising his dream. He established the 
Jewish Colonization Association, which was formally incorpor- 
ated in London on 10 September 1891. He chose the form of an 
English corporation because the English Companies Acts required 
a minimum of formality and imposed a minimum of restrictions 
on a company's actions. Thus the Baron assured to his instrument 
perpetual life and the freedom to do what he wanted. The Memor- 
andum of Association was signed by the Baron, Lord Rothschild, 
Sir Julian Goldsmid, Sir Ernest Cassel, Frederick Mocatta, S. H. 
Goldschmidt, Salomon Reinach and Sir Benjamin L. Cohen. All 
of these men were prominent members of the London or Paris 
Jewish communities. The authorised capital of JCA was £2 million 
divided into 20,000 shares of £100 each. The Baron subscribed 
for 19,991 shares, the others one each. 

To complete the story of the Baron's benefactions to JCA, he 
bequeathed a further £7,100,602 to the Association. After 
payment of death duties JCA was left with £5,872,104 (in addition 
to the initial paid-up capital of £2 milhon). The purchasing power 
of these gifts in 1982 terms might be some £200 million. ^ In 
addition, JCA is the trustee for the benefit of the AUiance Israelite 
Universelle of a legacy under the will of the Baroness of £425,000. 

The principal objects of the Association were stated to be: 

1 to assist and promote the emigration of Jews from any part of 
Europe or Asia, and principally from countries in which they 
were being subjected to special taxes or political or other disabi- 
lities, to any other parts of the world, and to form and establish 
colonies in various parts of North and South America and other 
countries for agricultural, commercial and other purposes; 

2 to purchase in any part of the world lands that could be 



3 to accept gifts for the benefit of Jewish communities or 

4 to establish commercial or agricultural settlements on the lands 

The first General Meeting of the Company, attended by most 
of the signatories of the Memorandum of Association in person 
or by proxy, was held in London on 14 October 1891. They 
appointed the Association's governing body, its Council - what 
would ordinarily be called its Board of Directors — and outlined 
its chief functions. The first members of the Council were the 
Baron de Hirsch, S. H. Goldschmidt and Isidore Loeb. 

The Council m et on 30 October; among other things they 
approved the arrangement entered into between the Baron and 
Wilhelm Lowenthal; ratified the purchase of land in Argentina at 
a place that later became the colony of Mauricio; ordered the 
refund of £16,911 to the Baron for expenditures incurred prior to 
incorporation, especially in Argentina; and appointed S. Sonnen- 
feld as general director and N. M. Rothschild & Sons as bankers 
(an interesting choice, in view of the recurring reports that the 
Baron and the Rothschild family were frequently at odds). 

JCA in Argentina 

While occupied in 1891 in negotiating with the Russian govern- 
ment and getting JCA legally established, the Baron had not 
neglected the main object of the exercise - preparation for emigra- 
tion to and settlement in Argentina. In April 1891 he had sent Dr 
Lowenthal back to that country with the power to buy land. As 
we have just seen, Lowenthal did buy a tract at what was to 
become Mauricio, 300 km southwest of Buenos Aires, and also 
redeemed the land at Moisesville where the original TodoHans' 
had made down payments. He entered into complex negotiations 
with the Argentine government and private persons to buy more 
land, but he was unsuccessful for various reasons, partly because 
the Baron would not approve some of the deals on the grounds 
that the price was too high. While engaged in efforts to purchase 
land on a large scale, Lowenthal also had the duty of seeing to it 
that houses were erected on lands already bought and equipment 
and animals provided (oxen and horses to furnish power, cattle 
and poultry to furnish meat, milk and eggs). Immigrants had 
already started to arrive from Russia. By July 1891 about 775 
were en route and 4,000 more were expected to set out in the near 
future. Lowenthal sent representations to the Baron to halt this 



influx, which in part was due to his own over-optimistic reports 
about his abiHty to handle a large number of immigrants. Unfor- 
tunately his messages were misunderstood, and newcomers kept 
arriving. To add to the confusion of immigrants landing before 
JCA was able to take care of them, word came that the 900 Jews 
who had been stranded in Constantinople were also now on their 
way to Argentina. 

Before this latter group arrived, however, two ships bringing 
571 Russian Jews docked at Buenos Aires. What happened to 
them was symptomatic of the difficulties and confusion that 
attended the beginnings of the JCA-sponsored immigration. 
Certain members of the local Jewish community'' who were 
antagonistic towards JCA started disturbing rumours (some were 
even spread by disaffected returnees from the settlements) that 
the provisions given to the new arrivals on disembarking 
contained horse meat^ (which is not kosher), that they would be 
sold into slavery, and such like. A tremendous fuss ensued, until 
the immigrants could be reassured that they could eat the meat 
and would not be enslaved. Then the group entrained for the 
station nearest to Mauricio, where they were to settle. After a 
journey of twelve hours they were met at the destination by one 
L. Gerbel, who was to be the administrator of Mauricio. They 
were by this time tired, hungry and thirsty. Unfortunately 
Gerbel, an Italian Jew who had converted to Christianity, knew 
little or no Yiddish or Russian, and the resulting difficulty in 
communication made for great frustration on both sides. What 
was clear, however, was that there was no water or food for 
the group except for some dry biscuits. Mauricio was several 
kilometres away, so some wagons and carriages were provided, 
but too few. Therefore the women and children rode and the 
weary and disgruntled men walked. On the way they were struck 
by a savage, overwhelming thunderstorm. Finally arriving at 
Mauricio, they found that nothing had been prepared for them - 
no houses, implements or hvestock, nothing but an old ware- 
house, which provided shelter for the women and their younger 

Although tents and a bakery were later provided, it is hardly 
surprising that not long afterwards the unhappy settlers rioted 
and the police had to be called in to restore order. 

One of the major sources of unrest could scarcely be blamed 
on the JCA administration in Argentina. In their hasty departure 
from Europe many settlers had been separated from their baggage 
and arrived with no effects except the clothes on their backs and 
no means of replacement thereof; more serious, a number of 
husbands came without their wives and children, who were to 



follow later. For whatever reason, JCA did not succeed - or else 
took years — in reuniting many of these divided families, whose 
men were an element readily stirred to complaint and even action 
against the administration. 

Nor did nature help. We have seen that a violent thunderstorm 
was unleashed on the poor travellers at the precise moment when 
they were out in the open, trudging from the railway station to 
Mauricio. Worse, the first crop that the 'Podolians' were able to 
raise was destroyed by locusts. 

There was another cause for disaffection. Because of a lack of 
implements the colonists were not able to work the soil, and 
neighbouring Italian and other Christian farmers were hired to 
put in the first crop. This caused considerable concern among the 
colonists and real disturbance to the Baron.'' When the news 
trickled back to him in garbled form he flew into a rage, under 
the impression that the colonists were living in idleness. He 
announced that he had made a success in business by taking quick 
decisions and, utterly unmindful of the quite undeveloped nature 
of the area, he peremptorily ordered Lowenthal to have houses 
built, which was an impossibility as material and men were 
lacking in the empty pampas. He also ordered Lowenthal to make 
sure that all the colonists worked 15 hours a day, seven days a 
week; and further commanded that Lowenthal expel all those 
who could not stand the pace. 

Philanthropic as he was, the Baron was obviously determined 
to be philanthropic in his way, and sometimes his way was not 
consistent. The case of the 'Pampistas' (this from the name of the 
ship they came on) from Constantinople, who were dumped on 
Lowenthal with Httle warning, was wholly at variance with his 
earher instructions that full preparations had to be made before 
emigrants were sent out. 

Lowenthal, on the spot, knew that expelling families who had 
just arrived in Argentina would be unfair to them and would 
have a very bad effect on public opinion. Further, under the terms 
of the Baron's arrangement with the Russian government an 
indemnity had to be paid for each immigrant who returned. 

When the Baron first appointed Dr Lowenthal he had complete 
confidence in him and gave him what appeared to be full power. 
In actual fact, Lowenthal did not have clear authority to buy land; 
for, as noted, many deals that he negotiated were countermanded 
by the Baron before they could be concluded, thus wasting the 
effort and time Lowenthal had put m. Beyond that, Lowenthal 
spread himself too thin, trying simultaneously to handle large 
real estate transactions and attend to the multitudinous details of 
preparing dwellings and buying equipment for the settlers, who 



were not only strangers in a strange land but often had no farm 
experience, or else had experience only on the small, much culti- 
vated farms of south Russia and not on great stretches of virgin 
territory. One of his major problems was the near impossibility 
of finding suitable assistants. Many of the men who worked for 
him spoke neither Yiddish nor Russian and some even looked 
down on the Russian Jews. Beyond this, he came to lose the 
Baron's trust by asserting that he could successfully settle many 
more immigrants than in reality he could. Lastly, he was not 
strict enough to satisfy Hirsch. All this led the Baron to change 
his mind completely about Lowenthal, who was dismissed in 
November 1891. He died in 1894, a frustrated and broken man, 
at the age of forty-four. A great part of the credit for the Argentine 
enterprise must be given to him, for he was both its inspirer and 
its initiator. 

If the broken-hearted Lowenthal could only have been aware 
that his term of less than a year as manager of JCA's affairs in 
Argentina was to be about the norm, it might have been some 
consolation to him. Between the time of his dismissal and the 
Baron's death less than five years later no fewer than six men 
(on occasion two served simultaneously) headed JCA's office in 
Buenos Aires. The Baron was quite conscious that this was a 
highly excessive rate of turnover, and he complained bitterly that 
his greatest handicap was his inability to find adequate personnel. 
Still, to his credit it must be said that, as the rapidity of change 
demonstrates, he never stopped trying. 

Lowenthal was succeeded by Adolfo Roth, an Argentinian, and 
the English engineer Cullen, who had been a member of the 
Baron's original three-man exploratory expedition. Cullen soon 
disgraced himself by supplying the Baron, who was still looking 
for new lands to purchase, with a very enthusiastic report on the 
Chaco, the area lying between Bolivia, Argentina and Paraguay. 
Cullen must have made the report without setting foot there, 
because the Chaco is a notoriously pestiferous, marshy, hot and 
distressingly humid area, which has not been settled to this day. 
Luckily, before the Baron made any offers he received a cable 
from another English engineer whom he trusted, telling him not 
to touch the Chaco. 

As for Roth, Cullen's co-director, he succeeded in doing what 
poor Lowenthal never quite managed to, that is buying immense 
tracts of land. Rumours that Roth benefited personally from his 
purchases on behalf of JCA had a good deal to do with his 
dismissal, but a very intensive search by an agent of the Baron 
turned up no evidence of any defalcation on Roth's part. 

By 1892, if not before, the news of the Baron's plans had 



percolated throughout the Russian Jewish community. Already 
frightened by the expulsion of the Jews from Moscow and other 
punitive measures taken by the czarist regime the year before, 
they felt under great pressure to take advantage of the opportunity 
to emigrate. The Baron then felt impelled to issue a proclamation 
to Russian Jewry, telling his co-rehgionists that he was trying to 
help them but that they must be patient and not flee headlong, 
and that committees were to be set up in Russia (with the consent 
and under the supervision of the imperial government) for the 
purpose of selecting emigrants and seeing to it that the exodus 
would be accomplished in a business-like way. Furthermore, he 
pointed out, at the beginning the 'number of emigrants cannot 
be large' for necessary preparations had to be made for their 
reception. The Baron had learned something, obviously, from 
the misadventures of 1891 in Argentina. Therefore he called upon 
the Russian Jews to exercise patience 'as the heirs of their fathers 
who for centuries suffered so much' 

Ironically, these admonitory words were hardly needed, for by 
1893 the rush was over. What with the bad reports coming back 
from Argentina and the deliberation with which the newer groups 
of expectant colonists were treated by JCA, the numbers desiring 
and able to go receded to a manageable level. 

Before relating the later history of the settlements, we might 
pause to glance over what had been accomplished so far. We can 
do it by reference to the first annual report of JCA, ^ covering the 
year beginning 1 September 1891. As such things go, this report 
spoke with considerable candour. It acknowledged that there were 
still great difficulties to be overcome, as might be expected at the 
inception of 'any enterprise of this character'; that the 'first persons 
who were placed at the head of it were not equal to the task'; 
that this 'painful position' had been created by the 

eruption of emigrants towards the Russian frontiers and the 
precipitation with which the local Committees were obHged 
to act, and the haste with which the choice of colonists took 
place. It will be readily understood that many emigrants have 
been introduced into the colonies who are new to agriculture, 
and thus detrimental to organisation, and that these seriously 
increased the initial difficulties of the work. Of course this is 
precisely the opposite to what should have happened if it had 
been possible for us to have selected people used to agricultural 
labour, and offering the requisite guarantees of stabihty, 
discipline, morahty. 

The report further revealed that land had been purchased as 



(Acres) (Hectares) 

Mauricio (Buenos Aires Province) 72,500 29,000 

Moisesville (Santa Fe Province) 25,000 10,000 

Entre-Rios Province 232,500 93,000 

330,000 132,000 

The number of families settled had been about 1,000 (a JCA 
report published 50 years later indicates that there were only 500 
colonist families actually in the settlements at the end of 1892), 
with over 150 acres each, and the total land area so far occupied 
and partly ploughed was about 180,000 acres. It was noted that for 
the moment the 'forwarding of emigrants' was being suspended 
because of a cholera epidemic in Russia and the need to reorganise 
the existing colonies. The report calls attention to the difficulty 
of finding suitable staff and expresses the hope that JCA will be 
able to find 'instructors amongst the colonists themselves'. 

The report made it very clear that, in accordance with the 
Baron's principles, the lands were not given 'gratuitously to the 
colonists'. They were expected to repay all costs plus interest in 
ten annual payments. Lastly, the report indicated that £330,000 
of the original capital had been spent: of this, £160,000 had been 
employed in the purchase of land at about 10 shillings per acre, 
and the remainder had been used mostly for the installation of 
colonists. The report also carried the information that, in order 
to avoid a too large agglomeration of Jewish colonists in Argen- 
tina, 'JCA had formed a colony in Western Canada with 100 

Though the report failed to mention it, an important event that 
had occurred in 1892 was the recognition of JCA by the Argentine 
government as a charitable institution. 

Events in Argentina had been followed by an attentive press 
throughout the Americas and Europe. The Hebrew and Yiddish 
press especially in Russia was avidly interested in what was going 
on in distant South America. The most prominent Hebrew 
language paper in Russia, Hamelitz of St Petersburg, was ex- 
tremely and consistently critical. And while its attitude may have 
been coloured by its Argentine correspondent, who was JCA's 
enemy because friends of his, it was alleged, had proposed a self- 
serving scheme to JCA and been rebuffed, there were enough 
blunders, mishaps and misunderstandings in JCA's early efforts to 
justify severe criticism, and not only in the Jewish press. Theodore 
Herzl, the correspondent of the Vienna Neue Freie Presse, also 
wrote a dispatch about JCA's difficulties. 

It was not only at Mauricio that the administration was unpre- 
pared for newcomers. When the 'Pampistas' from Constantinople 



reached a new colony, San Antonio, there was in effect a re- 
enactment of the Mauricio incident. There was no living accom- 
modation, no meat, no fuel, a general lack of food; the new 
arrivals had to sleep on the ground or in ditches, or at best, in 
wagons and wrecks of old buildings; the administrator did not 
speak or understand Russian or Yiddish; when food finally was 
provided, there was a question as to whether it was kosher. It 
was no wonder that here too there was a riot against the adminis- 
tration and the police had to be called in. However, after all this, 
when the 'Pampistas' were finally provided with building mate- 
rials, they set to work energetically erecting houses and barns. 

In a sense, the adventures of the 'Pampistas' epitomised the 
story of all the first Argentine colonies. Conditions at the start 
were terrible, but when the proper materials and supplies were 
made available at least some of the settlers were able to get on 
their feet and begin to make order out of chaos. A contributor to 
this improvement was the next chief administrator in Buenos 
Aires, the successor to Roth, Colonel A. E. W. Goldsmid. 

Goldsmid, a regular officer of the British Army, was a unique 
individual. His father was a converted Jew, a member of the 
Indian Civil Service. The younger Goldsmid entered the British 
Army in India a Christian, read and learnt about his Jewish heri- 
tage, decided he wanted to become a Jew, and converted back. 
He was a very active member of the early Zionist movement in 

The Baron had great hopes of the Colonel, who seemed to be 
blessed with the most desirable qualities: a successful military 
administrator, with just those traits of decisiveness and severity 
that the Baron felt had been lacking in his predecessors, yet a 
Jew, interested in Jewish problems, and devoted to his fellow 
Jews - at least in the abstract. Also, what doubtless appealed to 
the Baron's snobbish side, Goldsmid had been recommended if 
not by the Prince of Wales personally, then by an important 
member of his entourage. The Baron expected that the Colonel 
would correct past errors and would set up an effective organis- 
ation, one that would provide, in good time, houses, tools and 
animals and would impose discipline. This, indeed, was a major 
point in the Baron's instructions. He told Goldsmid to send back 
any colonists who did not work hard and were not content with 
a minimum of food, and suggested that in cases of mass insubordi- 
nation the Colonel should have recourse to mass repatriation. In 
his desire to bring order to the unruly colonies the Baron seemed 
to forget that the unrest of the settlers may have had a reasonable 

Goldsmid began with a tour of the colonies. He travelled to 



Moisesville, northwest of Buenos Aires, to Clara, directly to the 
north, and to Mauricio to the west. Throughout, he was received 
most respectfully, like a visiting potentate. And he did make 
certain reforms; for example, instead of supplying provisions and 
materials to the incoming settlers he arranged for JCA to pay 
them subsidies which left them the responsibihty and freedom to 
obtain what they needed themselves. He also carried out the 
Baron's injunction to be strict. At Mauricio he told the colonists 
who wanted to leave to do so, with JCA paying their fare even 
to the USA - and some did. At Clara he expelled four families 
who had demonstrated a complete incapacity to do any work, 
though the settlement as a whole seemed to be faring well. Here 
implements and animals had been provided, although the latter 
included some untrained horses and oxen, which had to be broken 
in by the newcomers who had very little experience of such 
esoteric skills. At Moisesville the Colonel arranged for a definitive 
distribution of land, parcelled out tools and cattle to the settlers, 
and got houses built; not surprisingly, there was a great reduction 
in the volume of complaints. He also reduced the JCA staff, 
which had grown intolerably. But not everything in Goldsmid's 
administration was plain sailing. He wanted to expel some fami- 
lies from Moisesville, 1° but members of a mission of inspection 
sent by Hirsch himself sided with the settlers. Even after his 
reforms there was still trouble in Moisesville as many colonists 
had not received tools or cattle. 

Goldsmid's worst troubles came from his relationship with the 
Baron de Hirsch. Apparently Goldsmid wanted the Buenos Aires 
office, rather than Paris (which meant the Baron), to have the 
authority to make decisions. Not succeeding in obtaining as much 
freedom of action as he wanted, the Colonel resigned in May 
1893 after having served 15 months. He was succeeded by a 
Russian-Jewish engineer, Kogan, the first administrator who was 
a compatriot of the colonists. He believed that the unrest and 
unruliness of the settlers was due to the previous administrators' 
lack of understanding. But it did not take long for Kogan, who 
was an arrogant, self-confident and self-willed individual, to get 
into hot water himself 

JCA had formed nine groups in Russia, each consisting of about 
50 famihes expecting to emigrate to Argentina. Each of the groups 
sent one or two representatives to Argentina to inspect the 
colonies before the bulk of the would-be emigrants embarked. 
Kogan quarrelled bitterly with the representatives. Their differ- 
ences arose because the Russians wanted to hve in villages, as 
they had at home, with their farms lying outside, while Kogan 
favoured the North American system of having each house on its 



own land; even under such an arrangement, by placing the houses 
near where the four corners of separate properties touched, as 
many as four houses could be near each other, and some neigh- 
bourly propinquity was a necessity for these newcomers on the 
empty, unfriendly pampas. The argument for the village arrange- 
ment was that it was the customary one in Russia (and throughout 
much of Europe also); the argument against it was that with farms 
of 100 acres or more, much larger than in Russia, a villager might 
have to walk 15 km a day just to get to and from his property. 
This controversy over the plans for new settlements delayed the 
departure of the nine groups for months. The intention had been 
to fmish the houses and other buildings for 350 families by 
October 1893, but these were still not quite complete by August 
1894. The families in the meantime had wound up their affairs 
and then remained marooned in Russia for a year longer than 
they had expected. In the middle of 1894 they finally managed to 
sail, but true to the JCA tradition of misfortune they had to wait 
several days in Genoa to transfer to the ships for Argentina, 
suffering illness and hunger because of the difficulty in obtaining 
kosher food. Most of them arrived in the midst of the Argentine 
winter. Many contracted typhus on account of the cold. Finally, 
because of their arrival late in the year they were not able to work 
the virgin land assigned to them until 1895, only then making 
preparations for a wheat crop to be harvested in 1896. 

By that time Kogan, who had been largely responsible for 
delaying their voyage, was long gone. In fact, he had lasted 
only six months, until November 1893. He had not exactly been 
dismissed by the Baron, but the latter had appointed two new 
directors at the end of 1893 and Kogan, a proud man, took this 
as a rather too obvious hint. Further, the new administrators, 
though they did not agree with the Russian delegates, had given 
way to them in order to settle the housing controversy which 
had gone on far too long. 

These new administrators were Samuel Hirsch (no relation of 
the Baron) and David Gazes, both of whom had been responsible 
officials in the Alliance Israelite's school system. It is remarkable 
that there appears no record of any disagreement between them, 
although they served together for about 15 years. Perhaps equally 
remarkable was the fact that they were not dismissed by the 
Baron. This was partly because he had httle opportunity, as he 
lived for only two years after their appomtment, and partly 
because he had apparently given up hope of finding a perfect head 
for the Argentine enterprise. Though he was often heard referring 
to Gazes and Hirsch contemptuously as 'Melamedim' - poor 
schoolteachers - he was careful not to berate them. When he 



differed with them he expressed himself carefully and circum- 
spectly so as not to offend. 

Thus, when the great 'contract' revolt broke out in the colonies 
and the Baron made extravagant statements that all the settlers 
should be sent back to Russia, despite the costs, penalties and 
logistical difficulties that would be entailed, he allowed himself 
to be persuaded not to take so self-destructive a course. Hirsch 
and Cazes not only had the advantage over the previous directors 
in that the Baron gave them more latitude; they also had a fairly 
secure base from which to operate. Roth, as we have said, had 
been a great purchaser of land, and the next two administrators, 
Goldsmid and Kogan, also added to JCA's holdings, which 
amounted to 444,780 acres by the end of 1894. Four colonies - 
Moisesville, Mauricio, Clara and San Antonio - had been estab- 
lished on a fairly sound footing, and some if not all of the local 
managers could communicate with the colonists. The slowing 
down of the rate of arrivals and the end of emergency shipments 
of immigrants made it possible for adequate preparations to be 
made for their reception. No longer were there disastrous, long- 
lasting waits in the open by hungry and thirsty newcomers. Now, 
on the whole, accommodation was ready in advance of the arrival 
of the occupants. 

The contracts^^ 

Samuel Hirsch and Cazes, however, had their share of difficult 
times, especially at the beginning of their service; for they were 
soon confronted by the affair of the contracts. 

By 1894 the Baron had decided that the development of the 
settlements had proceeded so far that it was time to enter into 
definitive agreements with the colonists. In fact, a lack of any 
contract indicating what the settlers might expect had allowed the 
enemies of JCA to spread the rumour that the Russian Jews 
working JCA lands were slaves, as they had no definite promise 
of what goods and property they might receive or when. The 
contracts were intended to resolve these doubts. In working out 
what was owed, all JCA's costs were taken into account — trans- 
port, maintenance, subventions, houses, animals, equipment. The 
average cost per family for these items came to £150-£180. The 
cost of the land added £120, making the typical family's debt 
£270-£300. In addition, the putative contracts imposed a 5 per 
cent charge for interest. Even these figures did not cover JCA's 
total expenditure because, reasonably enough, the charges against 
the farmers did not include the amounts JCA had spent mistakenly 



or because of errors by its staff; these sums, which amounted to 
£180,000, had been written off 

JCA proposed that the debt of each farmer be paid in 12 equal 
annual instalments. Furthermore, the contracts provided that 
some of the land involved might have to be given up by the 
purchaser if it were needed by the community for roads etc. Also, 
the land could not be used for any but agricultural purposes - in 
some cases not even for cattle raising - and could not be farmed 
by a third party. Lastly, if any of the regulations were broken the 
property would revert to JCA. 

Most of the colonists reacted with shock and dismay to the 
Baron's proffered contracts; the reaction of many was exacerbated 
because the contract was read to them rapidly in Spanish, which 
they did not understand. The settlers in Moisesville, who had 
been in Argentina the longest, were not so antagonistic to the 
idea of signing, because they were familiar with the agreements 
offered by private colonization companies which did not differ 
greatly from JCA's. On the other hand the organisers of these 
other companies did not claim to be philanthropists, a point the 
opponents of the contract were quick to make. 

The agitation stirred up by the contracts was compounded by 
the fact that, at the same time as they were proffered, JCA ordered 
that the wheat harvested by its colonists was to be delivered to 
its own warehouses to be sold by its agents, and only the surplus, 
if any, over the annual payment due was to be remitted to the 
growers. The latter claimed, not without justice, that this measure 
left them no wherewithal to pay immediate debts or to live until 
the next harvest. And besides, since the gram was to be sold at 
JCA's discretion, what assurance did the growers have that the 
best price would be obtained? 

The protests regarding the grain deliveries were reasonable 
enough to cause the Buenos Aires office to retreat; settlers were 
allowed to retain some of the grain for sale for their own account. 
But the matter of the contracts was not so easily concluded. The 
1894-5 harvest, which had aroused great hope, in the event came 
to grief Frost killed much of the crop at Mauncio; then a heat- 
wave scorched the grain that was left. In the northern colonies 
prolonged rains flattened the wheat so that the crop was both 
small and expensive to harvest. The 1894-5 maize crop at Clara 
had been ruined by drought, and the high prices expected did not 

With consummate lack of tact and judgment, Hirsch and Cazes 
chose this time to let the farmers know that they would be 
expected to pay for the harvesting costs without help from JCA. 
Real rebelHons broke out in Clara and Mauricio, and the colonists 



called on the police and provincial governments to protect them 
against the administration. Hirsch and Cazes visited the villages 
and adopted a generally concihatory policy, suspending payments 
and promising material and financial aid. The Baron in Paris 
fumed. He wanted the instigators punished, but Hirsch and Cazes 
stood up to him, and the Baron himself, on reflection and learning 
more about the details of the situation, became more sympathetic. 

As we have indicated, some of the uproar about the contracts 
was due literally to lack of understanding; in time matters were 
clarified. The administration made new agricultural machinery 
available to contract-signers, and the Baron was quoted as saying 
that he would take 25 per cent off the purchase price for worthy 
settlers. Also, Hirsch and Cazes made concessions. They would 
extend the repayment period, make more land available for cattle 
raising, allow the farmers to hire labour and compensate them 
for land taken for railways. All this led to many contracts being 
signed, though a large proportion of the colonists still held out. 

The reaction to the contracts had not gone unnoticed in the 
world outside. Some of the Argentine papers had commented to 
the effect that the contracts were overly onerous; enemies of JCA 
saw to it that the story reached and was carried by a notoriously 
anti-Semitic paper in Russia; but other periodicals, like the 
London Jewish Chronicle, took a more tolerant view. 

As for the Baron himself, despite the doubts and despairs he 
admitted to in private in view of the continuing setbacks resulting 
from the weather and the conflicts between the settlers and the 
administration, he put on a brave front in public. In interviews 
with the Jewish Chronide^^ he boldly continued to predict that the 
Argentine colonies would yet be the home of hundreds of thous- 
ands of Russian Jews. 

Life in the settlements 

The private and public Baron here contradicted themselves. But 
he was often nothing if not contradictory. He was open-handed 
in the extreme; yet in the matter of the contracts he was very 
strict initially with the settlers in Argentina. This paradox might 
be explained by saying that he had not set up JCA as a charitable 
enterprise; his original idea was that the sums invested would be 
repaid, so that the money could be apphed in reheving others in 
a similar way. On another matter, however, it is more difficult 
to reconcile the seeming paradox. In the 1880s the Baron had 
been willing to spend 50 milhon francs on the education of 
Russian Jews; yet he was opposed to vocational education for the 



Jews he had brought to Argentina, feeling that they should have 
already learnt the practice of agriculture and also being opposed 
to educating them in general. His conception apparently was that 
the Russo-Jewish immigrants should be farmers at the low level 
of Turkish or Hungarian peasants and not in the much more 
expansive Enghsh or American sense. At times he expressed his 
dislike of Jewish intellectuals, asserting that Jews' troubles arose 
from over-emphasis on mtellectual skills. However, he had no 
objection to the provision of religious, historical and Hebrew 
teaching by the colonists for their children. As early as 1891 there 
was a cheder in a tent in Moisesville, and not long afterwards there 
were similar schools at the other three colonies. Soon proper 
schools were built in all the colonies with the assistance of the 
Alhance Israelite and staffed with teachers trained by it. A small 
library was established in Mauricio in 1892, the first of many. 

Nor did JCA neglect the physical well-being of the colonists. 
By 1894 there were 'hospitals' (more properly called clinics) at 
Clara and Mauricio, and doctors to serve in them - in Clara, 
indeed, the doctor had four assistants - and the doctors had to be 
rather exceptional. In the words of the 1894 Report, 

It was necessary to find doctors furnished with diplomas 
recognised by the Argentine Government and who, besides 
having a knowledge of Spanish, were also acquainted with 
the customs of our Colonists and with their peculiar 
language. '3 They had also to be men of sufficient physical 
vigour to frequently travel day and night over very great 

Many of the doctors were Russian Jews who distinguished 
themselves by their devotion to the needs of their patients. One 
of these, Dr Noe Yarcho, who came to Clara in 1893, was 
esteemed by the settlers not only for his self-sacrifice on behalf 
ot their health but also because he took their side in their frequent 
battles with the administration. !■* 

The population of the colonies increased considerably in 1894 
and 1895, when 14 groups that had been recruited in Russia 
arrived in Argentina. Most were placed in small villages in the 
Clara area, where by 1896 there were 20 sub-villages, and some 
at Moisesville. There were on the average 40 families in each 
group. Several of the incoming groups were settled in traditional 
European style, m villages of 40-50 houses close together. Four 
others were estabhshed on a mixture of village and isolated-farm 
systems, with the 40-50 dwellings arranged in units of 2 to 12 so 
that the pasturage and cultivated lands should not be too far away. 
Yet others were divided into two units of 25 houses each. So the 



controversy over the plan of the villages was decided by adopting 
both forms that had been proposed and adding a new and different 

By this time each family had a small but substantial two- 
room house of brick, with a galvanised iron roof, a kitchen (and 
windows, some of the historians are careful to add). In addition, 
many had a stable for their complement of draught animals. (This 
early in the history of the JCA colonies, milk production was not 
important as it became later.) Also, each family had on the average 
an allocation of 185 acres. 

By 1895 there were 1,222 colonist families, but by 1896 this 
figure had been materially reduced to 910, comprising 6,757 
persons. The reduction was due to the administration's sporadic 
purges from the settlements of the unwilling and incapable 
settlers. In fact, the 1895 Report of JCA had clearly stated that 
up to 10 per cent of the settlers were poor human material and 
must be 'got rid of, root and branch'. It should not be forgotten 
that JCA was willing to pay the travelling expenses of the expelled 
families, even to the United States. In addition to those expelled 
by JCA, a large number left the colonies out of discouragement. 
The crops in most of the years at the beginning of JCA's activities 
had been poor because of rain or drought; the weather had been 
dry at normally rainy seasons, and then in 1894—5, when a good 
crop was expected and was about ready for harvesting, very heavy 
rains smashed the wheat to the ground so that it could not be 
reaped. The crop of 1895 was remembered as especially poor 
precisely because expectations had been high. In addition to the 
bad weather there were periodic attacks by swarms of locusts 
which were difficult to combat. 

We have noted previously that the Baron had disapproved of 
some deals for land that Lowenthal had made, on the ground that 
the prices were too high; the Baron calculated that on the basis 
of such prices the settlers would never be able to repay JCA. This 
land that he refused to acquire was located on the pampa humeda, 
a broad band of good soil several hundreds of miles wide covering 
most of Buenos Aires province and extending into the south of 
the provinces of Entre-Rios and Santa Fe. But JCA's land 
purchases were made at the margin of the pampa humeda, or 
even beyond its borders, where the land was distinctly inferior. 
Consequently the JCA colonies in these areas were more exposed 
to plagues of locusts, drought and floods than farms in the better- 
quality area. 

In spite of the poor results in 1895, the administration cut off 
subsidies in that year to all colonists except the very newly arrived 
groups and some of the older famiHes who were in an especially 



parlous situation. However, the poor crops in 1896, exacerbated 
by three separate waves of devouring locusts, made necessary 
a resumption of subsidy payments in the northern colonies of 
Moisesville, San Antonio and Clara. Mauricio, in the central part 
of the country, escaped the plague, and its residents were not 
subsidised. Another factor that contributed to the colonists' dissat- 
isfaction was the low level of wheat prices in these years, for 
wheat was their major crop. In 1896 a total area of 37,385 hectares 
(approximately 93,000 acres) was planted. Wheat amounted to 68 
per cent of this total, flax to 21 per cent, maize to about 6 per 
cent, and the rest was kitchen gardens and alfalfa (lucerne). In 
view of this preponderance of low-priced wheat, the head office 
in Buenos Aires instructed its corps of agronomists to try to 
persuade the farmers to diversify into more intensive crops. But 
diversification into such things as fruit or vegetables was inexped- 
ient because the colonies were so far from the urban centres 
that would be the natural markets for such produce. JCA was, 
however, successful in introducing the settlers to the production 
of milk, cheese and butter. 

One contradictory feature of the situation was that, despite all 
the wheat they produced, the colonies had to pay high prices for 
flour because this was brought in from elsewhere in the country. 
To eliminate this anomaly, steam-powered mills for grinding 
wheat were installed in Clara in 1895 and in Mauricio a year later. 

Perhaps because he had been troubled by the exodus from the 
colonies (although JCA claimed that their loss of population was 
much less than in other newly developed parts of Argentina), 
perhaps because he wanted witnesses to refute the usual spate of 
anti-JCA articles in certain sectors of the Jewish press, and perhaps 
for a third reason which we shall mention in a moment, at the 
end of 1895 the Baron sent Dr Sonnenfeld, the head of the Paris 
office of JCA, and David Feinberg, secretary of the St Petersburg 
Committee, to Argentina on a tour of inspection. Feinberg, 
though castigated in some colonies by the individuals he had 
selected to migrate from Russia - some of them told him they 
would have been better off if they had never left - took a favour- 
able view of the Argentine settlements, at least in his pubHc 
statements. He wrote: 

My general impression is most favourable to our colonists. It 
was with joy that, when I passed from one colony to another, 
I was able to convince myself of the marvellous aptitude of 
our co-rehgionists for the hard work of the fields. It was I 
who selected the colonists in Russia. They were for the most 
part small merchants, shop-keepers, subordinate employees, 



and in general people who had never been engaged in 
agricultural pursuits. But evidently the fault, if fault there 
was, was not theirs. And the proof is that, when they have 
been given the means of cultivating the soil, they have shown 
a zeal and ardour which in less than two years have made 
them suitable agriculturists, is 

Nevertheless, Feinberg and Sonnenfeld recommended that immi- 
gration should be held up until those farmers already in Argentina 
were on a really firm footing. 

The third reason the Baron may have had for sending his two 
emissaries to South America was that he wanted a first-hand 
report. There is some evidence that he was planning to visit the 
Americas himself- he had never been across the Atlantic - bring- 
ing with him a large entourage of journalists who could look 
into the results of JCA's labours. However, while Feinberg and 
Sonnenfeld were still in Argentina, on 21 April 1896, Baron 
Maurice de Hirsch died quite suddenly, presumably of a massive 
heart attack, while at the country house of a friend near his own 
recently purchased estate of O'Gyalla in Hungary. 

What had the Baron accomplished? 

So the Baron did not live to see with his own eyes what he had 
wrought in America. 'What he had wrought' is in this context an 
accurate statement; for, though JCA had a Council of three, the 
Baron was obviously the dominant member. Indeed, by virtue 
of a resolution passed at the first meeting in October 1891, he 
legally had complete power; this resolution, which was re- 
adopted annually for some years thereafter, vested the President 
with all the powers of the Council. And the Baron acted in 
conformity with this authorisation. S. H. Goldschmidt and 
Isidore Loeb attended the meeting in October 1891, but subse- 
quently, until April 1894, only the Baron and Goldschmidt were 
present. Loeb was apparently ill, and he died in July 1892. Then 
H. G. Lousada, the solicitor, was elected in Loeb's place, but he 
did not come to the Council meetings that Hirsch and Gold- 
schmidt regularly held.'*' In 1894 Salomon Reinach was elected to 
the Council and made a third member at the meetings until the 
Baron's death in 1896. JCA's address, 2 rue de I'Elysee, Paris (the 
Baron's home), was further testimony to the complete identific- 
ation of JCA in its first five years with its founder. The statement 
in the 1896 Annual Report, 'He was during his Hfetime not only 
the President but the soul of the Jewish Colonization Association' 
(translated), is succinct - and true. 



Chaim Avni, an Israeli historian whose detailed account of 
JCA's first five years in Argentina has been a valuable source for 
this chapter, is of the opinion that the Baron's choice of Argentina 
as a place of settlement was based on inadequate information and 
misconceptions, though he had the benefit of reports by observers 
whom he himself had dispatched there. Hirsch had hoped that he 
could obtain control of an autonomous region, which he was 
unable to do. He had no idea of the strength of anti-Semitism in 
Argentina, as manifested in the press and legislature, and he did 
not know how strongly the Argentines felt that all immigrants 
should be integrated into the local society. He overestimated the 
amount of good land available and overestimated the ability of 
Russian Jewish farmers, who had worked small plots intensively 
with primitive implements and had had alternate occupations, to 
accustom themselves to cultivating the virgin expanses of the 

The committees that chose the colonists for emigration had no 
understanding of conditions in Argentina. Worse, the delays, 
stretching to years, which were not the fault of the colonists, 
discouraged many. The Baron, says Avni, had the rather naive 
notion that the immigrants were born either "good or bad', and 
did not seem to understand that unwarranted delays and resent- 
ment against what seemed to be an unfair contract might turn a 
'good' settler into a 'bad' one. The blunders of the administration 
- the placing of non-Jews on the staff and their aloofness - contri- 
buted to the discontent. The result was that, of every two families 
brought to Argentina, only one stayed on the farm. By 1901, 
1,550 families had been settled m the colonies of Clara and San 
Antonio in Entre-Rios province. Of these, 841 left and 709 stayed. 
And yet, Avni is careful to point out that Jews who signed 
contracts with private colonization companies in Argentina and 
failed to fulfil them were also expelled. Further, the Argentine 
government attempted a similar settlement venture at a place 
called Yehia, which failed dismally. Therefore the setbacks, disap- 
pointments and failure of JCA's enterprise were not due entirely 
to the mistakes of the Baron and the JCA staff. They were in 
large part the result of the inherent difficulty of transferring indivi- 
duals en masse to a strange land where language, customs and 
working conditions were utterly different from what they had 
been used to. And indeed, the goals that JCA had set for itself in 
1892 were impossible to accomplish. 

There was another and very potent reason the settlers did not 
remain on the farm. The intellectual apostles of 'productivising' 
Jews, of which the Baron was one, beHeved that, if enough of 
their brethren became 'productive' workers, making and growing 



things by manual labour, anti-Semitism would be alleviated. But 
the object of this 'productivisation' - the settler himself - may 
have had different ideas. If he could better himself by abandoning 
the farm with its back-breaking labour and improve his material 
situation by becoming a tradesman, doctor or engineer in a town 
or city, why shouldn't he? And that is just what the Jews who 
came as colonists, or their children, did. A disproportionate 
number of the professional class in Argentina came to be children 
of JCA settlers who attended lower schools in the colonies and 
then went on to university. One Argentine colonist pithily 
summed up this tendency by saying, 'We have sown wheat and 
harvested doctors.' 

Dr Avni makes it clear, without perhaps saying so exphcitly, 
that he regards the great JCA venture into Argentina as a failure, 
and for a multitude of reasons besides the fact that the colonies 
were planted on poorish land, outside the pampa humeda: (1) the 
lack of any kind of ideology like that which has inspired farming 
in Israel; (2) the enforced resort to mono-culture; (3) the problems 
of marketing with the cities so far away; (4) the Argentine tend- 
ency to favour urban dwellers, giving them superior status as 
compared with the farming class; and (5) the rigid and hierarchical 
nature of the JCA administration. There is some truth in all 
this, but we would nevertheless enter a strong demurrer to the 
conclusion. While admitting that at present Jewish agriculture in 
Argentina has practically come to an end, and that at no time did 
JCA come anywhere near fulfilling the large and impossible aims 
of its sponsors, in a larger perspective - that of European Jewry 
on the one hand and the Argentine nation on the other - claims 
can be made as to the beneficial effect of the Baron's bold venture. 
At the end of Chapter 13 we describe some of the contributions 
made by the Jews to Argentina's agriculture. Also, while JCA- 
sponsored immigration was responsible for Argentina's obtaining 
a large accretion to its stock of professionals, Jews as a whole also 
benefited, because of the introduction of a new destination for 
the great numbers who wanted to leave Europe, especially Russia. 
All observers agree that JCA's colonization drive opened up the 
country to large-scale Jewish immigration. The 1895 census 
counted only 6,085 Jews in Argentina; a JCA survey in 1909 
estimated a population of 55,000 Jews in that country, of whom 
15,771 were in the JCA colonies; in 1919 the corresponding figures 
were 125,000 and 26,500. There are no firm figures on the present 
number of Jews in Argentina, but in the 1982 American Jewish 
Yearbook (p. 284) an estimate is given for 1980 of 242,000. 

The Baron's work, as we have said, Hved after him and indeed 



lives still. As Narcisse Leven, who was elected President of JCA 
a few months after the Baron died, said in the 1896 Report: 

We have first of all a duty to fulfil, that is to render homage 
to the memory of the founder of our organisation, the Baron 
de Hirsch, who died on 21 April 1896. He had the generous 
idea of coming to the help of his coreligionists living in 
countries where they suffered under discriminatory laws by 
improving their lot, both materially and morally. Not only 
did he provide without limit the means of accomplishing this 
great work, but he put at its service his intelligence and his 
efforts. The outlines of the work were traced by his hand. 
Fate, unfortunately, only granted him time to begin it. 

The Baron's death had, perhaps unexpectedly, a profound effect 
on the Argentine colonists. In their interminable quarrels with 
the JCA administration they had always regarded the Baron as 
distinct from his subordinates. The news of his decease inspired 
spontaneous and universal expressions of loss and mourning 
throughout the settlements. Some of the colonists went so far as 
to say that grief arising from the incessant difficulties with and 
recriminations by them had contributed to his fatal attack. Not 
only were memorial services held in every synagogue in Argen- 
tina, but resolutions were passed urging that all male children 
born during the first year after his death be named after him. At 
the end of that year, again, the Kaddish prayer was recited in all 
the country's synagogues in his memory.'^ 


_ /■ 

■ ■W-:f> 

Cracow Tarnow: 

• Tarnopol , 

;| PODOLIA Kremenchug 
..• Kamenets-Podolsk 

Czernowitz iR 

jpW Kishinev • // 

\-Z. Odessa^-^^ Kherson 

■ -y 


Map 1 The Pale of Settlement 


Activities in Russia 

The Annual Reports of JCA for the years from 1892 to 1900 were 
at first fairly succinct, but by the end of that period they ran to 
about 100 pages and went into considerable detail concerning the 
settling of Russian Jews in Argentina, which was indeed JCA's 
most important theatre of operation. Only the briefest of para- 
graphs were devoted to its activities in Russia. However, after 
1900 the Annual Reports became even more detailed, and JCA's 
work in Russia began to be described as fully and meticulously 
as its interests elsewhere. 

What was the reason for this brevity in the early reports? The 
rationale that best suggests itself is that JCA, knowing that every 
step it took in Russia came under the scrutiny of that country's 
arbitrary and unpredictable bureaucracy, believed that by keepmg 
a low and inconspicuous profile it would avoid arousing attention. 
Then, when there were no adverse repercussions after the first 
few years, a fuller coverage was felt to be possible. Brief as the 
early reports were, there is enough material in them, and in an 
interview that the Baron gave to the London Daily Graphic of 7 
July 1894, for us to form a fair idea of what JCA was doing in 
Russia in the last decade of the nineteenth century. 

It will be remembered that Arnold White, the Baron's emissary, 
on his second visit in 1892 had obtained permission for JCA to 
estabhsh a Central Committee in St Petersburg with subordinate 
committees in provincial capitals. Their function was to select the 
settlers for the Argentine colonies. In the course of 1892 these 
committees were duly set up, and David Feinberg was appointed 
Secretary of the Central Committee. He did not confine himself 
to the capital, but travelled widely, working with local groups 
who chose the emigrants. These were assembled into groups of 
40-50 families, generally originating from one locaHty. It was 
hoped that these groups would be self-governing, and as a first 
step in this direction two delegates from each were chosen as an 
advance party of inspection to Argentina. By 1893 these delegates 
had gone there, but the emigration of the groups themselves was 
held up because of an outbreak of cholera m Russia and also by 



the inability of the JCA administration in Buenos Aires to make 
a decision as to the mode of settlement. Finally, however, by 
1894, 3,000 Russian Jews had been 'forwarded' to Argentina. 

In 1896 there was an interesting change in policy: JCA decided 
that young Russian Jews should be given an agricultural education 
(something the Baron had been opposed to, and it is significant 
that this was undertaken only after the Baron's death). Therefore 
a small number were sent to two agricultural schools operated by 
the Alliance Israelite - Mikveh-Israel outside Jaffa, and Djedeida 
in Tunisia. An even more significant departure from past practice 
was a declaration on JCA's part of a desire to help Jewish schools 
and other establishments to produce arts and crafts objects within 
Russia itself Many of the members of JCA's Russian Committee, 
including Baron Giinzburg, the Chairman, had basically favoured 
a policy of improving the situation of Jews within Russia rather 
than encouraging emigration. 

And then, David Feinberg made a point which he had intended 
to convey to the Baron after his return from his trip to Argentina, 
but had been forestalled by Hirsch's death. Feinberg's visit had 
convinced him that the colonies could not absorb more than a 
couple of hundred families per year, and that therefore immi- 
gration should be held up for some years to permit consolidation. 
In the meantime, he felt, more funds could be usefully expended 
in Russia itself Although it was too late to tell this to the Baron, 
Feinberg did talk to the Council, who agreed with him and, as 
we shall see, expanded the scope of JCA's activity in both Russia 
proper and Russian Poland. > 

In the following six years the scope of JCA's activities in Russia 
was quite firmly established. These activities were: 

1 help to Jewish farmers working individually or in colonies with 
loans for the purchase of high-quahty seed, modern implements 
and good breeding stock, and by using itinerant instructors to 
teach and demonstrate current techniques; 

2 help to a number of agricultural schools; 

3 help with the financing and supervision of what came to be an 
extensive network of hundreds of loan kassas (a form of savings 
and loan society), with hundreds of thousands of members, 
which were the sole source of credit for small Jewish busi- 
nessmen, artisans and farmers; 

4 assistance, financial and otherwise, to a widespread group of 
vocational schools for both boys and girls, which had in total 
some thousands of pupils, and, ancillary thereto, to a number 
of evening classes for artisans - ateliers where they could perfect 
their skills, and a small number of sales agencies; 



5 through the Society for Primary Education, support of nearly 
a hundred primary schools with some 10,000 pupils; 

6 the financing of a number of diverse enterprises like the Societe 
des Logements Hygieniques or the weaving factory at 

7 the establishment of what grew to be hundreds of bureaux of 
information on the means and methods of emigration from 
Russia. This operation, commenced in 1904, became properly 
effective in 1905, a year of which the normally unemotional and 
restrained JCA report remarked that a mainspring of Russian 
political policy seemed to be the destruction of the Jewish 

This of course was the year of the abortive revolution that 
followed Russia's defeat in its war with Japan. Though the Czar 
retained his throne, the uprising was sufficiently threatening to 
cause him to accede to the establishment of the Duma, the first 
elected Russian legislature. Although liberal members of the 
Duma introduced bills to ease restrictions on Jews, these proposals 
were blocked by the later and more reactionary assemblies, and 
the government's anti-Semitic policy continued unchanged. 
Despite the terrifying alarums, the expulsions and the pogroms 
that pervaded the life of the Jews in Russia and Russian Poland 
during these years, JCA maintained its many functions; indeed, 
in the case of the kassas and the local information bureaux for 
would-be emigrants, it expanded their scope. 

To exemplify the wide range of JCA's operations during the 
period 1900-14, we will take the year 1913 as a sample (we may 
refer occasionally to other years to fill the picture out). 


True to its ideological origins, JCA laid great emphasis on its 
work for the benefit of Jewish farmers in Russia. In 1913 the JCA 
Council voted special credits for the kassas in the Kherson and 
Ekaterinoslav provinces in the Ukraine so that the loans made by 
the kassas should be also a means of improving agricultural prac- 
tices. Using both their own funds and those borrowed from JCA, 
the kassas enabled the farmers to buy good seed or cattle of 
superior breeds, or to rent lots that had been left idle because 
their lessees had emigrated. Also, in Lithuania and northern 
Poland, where loans had hitherto been made through the agrono- 
mists employed by JCA, farm credit was now made available 
through kassas, for fertilisers, farm implements and the culture 



of Strawberries, a new crop on which the agronomists gave 
instruction. In Bessarabia-Podoha on the Romanian border 
(before 1914 Bessarabia was part of Russia; after 1918 it belonged 
to Romania; after the Second World War it reverted to Russia), 
JCA made loans to five kassas to be re-lent to tobacco farmers. 
The Association also made advances through kassas for the 
purchase of cows, but cut down on loans for viticulture, which 
did not do well enough in this area. 

Despite the general prohibition on Jews owning land, it seems 
that it was possible for them to buy small plots, and JCA lent 
individuals almost 7,000 roubles for this purpose. And so it went 
on - loans for the purchase of beehives, for the rental of pasturage, 
for the purchase of cows. Wherever there was a Jewish farm 
colony or farmer, whatever branch of agriculture he practised, 
the tireless JCA agronomists sought him out, made him loans or 
arranged for the local kassa to do it, and gave him instruction, 
performed demonstrations, even subsidised libraries so that the 
farmers could purchase material concerning agriculture. 

JCA was not only concerned with the welfare of practising 
Jewish farmers; it also looked to the instruction of young people 
who might become farmers. As we have seen, it had for many 
years subsidised the running expenses of a small number of agri- 
cultural schools, helped out with their building programmes, and 
supervised the curricula. In 1913 the institutions so helped were 
in Minsk in White Russia, Novopoltava near Kherson, and Czen- 
stoniev and Czestochowa in Poland. The student complement of 
all four together was 149, so obviously JCA's farm school activity 
was relatively modest. In addition to the teaching of agriculture, 
courses were given in religion, Hebrew, Polish and Russian. 

There was also a tree nursery at Soroki, in Bessarabia. This 
nursery was a source of thousands of apple, pear, cherry and 
other fruit trees, vines, and other plants for Jewish farmers. In 
1912 it had been attacked by a plague of parasites. Apparently 
there had been a tendency to grow some stock for show rather 
than for purely commercial considerations. In 1913 the nursery 
was reorganised to produce plants and trees strictly of marketable 

JCA's statistical report on the economic condition of Russian 
Jewry tells us that 13,059 families, comprising 75,887 people, had 
agriculture as their main occupation. As we have seen, thousands 
of these families benefited directly or indirectly from JCA's 

The report in question. La Situation Economique des Israelites de 
Russie, which is a vast storehouse of historical information, was 
one of the truly great accomplishments of JCA in Russia. This 



work, originally produced in Russian, was translated into French 
and published in Paris. The first volume, containing 437 pages, 
appeared in 1906 (Felix Alcan, editor) and the second, of 373 
pages plus an appendix containing 68 statistical tables, in 1908. 
More than 1,000 individuals, including businessmen, teachers, 
rabbis and prominent members of the community, responded to 
letters of inquiry from St Petersburg, often more than once. The 
staff there collated these replies into hundreds of statistical tables 
and wrote an extensive expository text. No topic bearing even 
remotely on the Jews' economic situation was neglected, and 
hardly any community, no matter how small and remote, 
remained unprobed and unmentioned; 1,302 localities were 
covered. As an example, the sixth and final part, which is a survey 
of educational facilities available to the Jews in Russia, lists all the 
schools and cheders wherever they were, the number of pupils in 
each, the costs of operation and the subjects taught. It then goes 
on with the same thoroughness to cover the vocational schools. 
Other sections of the study treat in the same complete fashion 
Jewish misery and good works and the part played by Jews in 
manufacturing, with special attention to the textile industry - 
spinning, weaving, knitting, clothes production etc. - both in 
former Poland and in the Pale generally. All this occupied the 
second volume; the first volume contained an extensive review 
of Jewish farmers, with separate chapters for the gubernias of 
Kherson and Ekaterinoslav in the Ukraine, Bessarabia, Poland 
and other provinces. The remainder of the first volume is devoted 
to a survey of Jewish artisans, handworkers and small private 

The kassa movement 

The kassa movement, which JCA had begun 11 years before, was 
still flourishing in 1913 despite poor commercial conditions in 
consequence of the Balkan Wars, which had particular effect in 
the southern and southeastern regions of Russia, and despite the 
poor circumstances of the Jewish population of this area, which 
was subjected to mass expulsion from the villages where they 
lived and worked. In fact, many kassas had extended their field 
of operations beyond credit and begun to act for their members 
as purchasing agents for machinery and raw materials, and like- 
wise as sellers of their members' products. The rapidity and extent 
of the spread of the kassas is not a matter for surprise; until they 
came into being, there was no source of credit for the small Jewish 



businessman, artisan or farmer, or for a family confronted by an 

More generally, the services of the kassas were intended for the 
poorest groups in the population - principally small tradesmen 
faced with an urgent problem, where a 100-rouble loan might be 
of critical importance, or artisans who lacked the funds to buy 
the tools of their trade or were in temporary distress because of 
illness or a strike. Without the kassas, such people could only 
resort to usurers, to their frequent ruin. By providing loans at 
reasonable rates of interest, the kassas rendered 'invaluable service 
to these poor, hard-working classes who constituted the majority 
of Russian Jews' (1908 Report, p. 224). 

By 1913 there were 680 kassas in Russia: 42 had been started 
in that year, of which 33 were in operation by December. Alto- 
gether, the kassas had about 450,000 members. As, presumably, 
not more than one person in a family belonged to a kassa, it is 
clear that a high proportion of all the Jewish families in Russia 
had a representative in a kassa. These institutions had at their 
disposal 40 million roubles (about £4.2 million) available for 
lending, of which two-thirds arose from members' deposits. 

As evidence of the good financial health of the kassas, JCA 
reports (with, alas, unconscious irony, just before the outbreak 
of the First World War) that many were reaching the point where 
their deposits would be sufficient for their needs without further 
advances from JCA. Indeed, more than a third of those presenting 
accounts were already in this position. The scale of operations 
can be envisaged from the size of the loans issued. In 1913, of the 
373 reporting associations, 32 had a 100 rouble (£10) limit on 
loans, 183 imposed varying limits between 100 and 250 roubles, 
151 made loans up to 300 roubles, and 7 even went beyond 300. 
To become a member in most of the kassas required a deposit of 
10 roubles (which could be paid in instalments); others had larger 
requirements, up to 50 roubles. 

Vocational schools 

While the agricultural schools had relatively few pupils, that was 
not the case with the JCA network of vocational schools in 
general. They were located in the principal centres of Jewish 
population like Bialystok in Poland, Dvinsk, Grodno, Odessa, 
Riga, Vilna, Warsaw and many others. In 1913 there were 18 
such institutions for boys, with 1,892 pupils (as compared with 
1,415 in 1912). For girls there were 13 schools, with 1,135 pupils. 
For the boys, the principal skill taught was that of locksmith- 



mechanic, which covered metalworking in general. About 75 per 
cent of all male students were in this field, because it was the one 
that offered the best job opportunities. The other major courses 
were for electricians, woodworkers and weavers. For the girls 
dressmaking was even more predominant than metalworking 
among the boys - 88 per cent — and the other major courses were 
related to it, e.g., sewing lingerie and making layettes. These 
skills were in demand, and employment was therefore relatively 
easy to obtain. The Central Committee in Petrograd (on the eve 
of the First World War the name of the capital was changed to a 
Russian form to rebut charges of undue German influence at the 
Court) was very much concerned with girls' education and made 
special efforts to ensure that the teachers became acquainted with 
up-to-date styles by visiting the salons where the latest fashions 
were displayed. JCA also contributed to three special primary 
schools for girls - in Dvinsk (Latvia) and Zhitomir and Poltava 
(Ukraine) — where, as well as the customary curriculum, pattern 
cutting and dress design were taught. 

In addition to regular vocational schools, JCA supported 
evening classes and established model workshops, where artisans 
could not only perfect their skills but also learn mathematics and 
design. There were 1,050 artisans attending 18 such institutions, 
half of which were in Vilna. 

Primary schools 

Another great JCA educational enterprise was its programme of 
subventions for Jewish primary schools. Through 'The Society 
for the Propagation of Instruction', JCA was contributing in 1913 
to the running expenses of no fewer than 66 institutions (25 for 
boys, 25 for girls, 8 mixed and 8 night-schools) with 11,134 
pupils (6,829 girls and 4,305 boys), who received the elements of 
a modern education although, interestingly enough, a large 
number of the boys' schools were connected with Talmud- 
Torahs. A httle more than half the pupils paid some tuition fees; 
the others were admitted free. JCA contributed not only towards 
running expenses but also in a number of cases towards the cost 
of buildings and equipment. 

The local Jewish communities often raised money for the 
schools by means of special events like dances or theatrical perfor- 
mances. In Odessa the local authorities, with special malevolence, 
prohibited such activities. Nevertheless, the 'Society for Instruc- 
tion' operated 17 schools there, with 2,335 pupils who were not 
included m the totals quoted in the previous paragraph. Also not 



included were the figures for Russian Poland. In that area, through 
the medium of the Society 'Daath' (knowledge), JCA helped 15 
schools with 2,139 regular pupils and 452 who attended evening 
classes. Counting all these categories together, over 16,000 chil- 
dren were at schools helped by JCA in 1913. It is interesting that 
only one or two of these schools were founded before 1890, that 
is before JCA came to Russia, and only a handful before 1900, 
when JCA began to operate there on a major scale. In other 
words, it was the encouragement and funds provided by, JCA 
that were responsible for the existence of almost all of these 
primary schools. 

As in the case of the vocational schools, JCA was careful to 
upgrade the quality of the teaching. For this purpose a summer 
course was operated in Odessa, attended by 240 teachers from 
about 150 localities. In addition to discussions of educational 
theory, lessons were given in zoology, botany, physics and 
design. More formally, 54 teachers attended courses in Grodno, 
studying particularly the teaching of Hebrew. 

Bureaux of information 

Through its Central Committee in St Petersburg, JCA had 
launched yet another enterprise in Russia involving tens of thou- 
sands of Jews, the Bureau of Information for Emigrants. This 
was initiated in 1904, which as we have seen was a time when 
recruiting for the Argentine settlements had greatly declined. The 
Central Committee set up this Bureau of Information to help 
the many Jews who wanted to leave Russia for any destination, 
especially the United States. By 1908 there were no fewer than 
360 local committees, offshoots of the Central Bureau, that had 
official governmental recognition. These, as might be expected, 
were concentrated in the areas where there was a preponderance 
of Jews - the so-called Northwest (Russian Poland and the Baltic 
region) and the Southwest (Ukraine and Bessarabia). By 1913 the 
number of local committees had grown to 507, grouped under 
18 regional committees. 

The Bureau was careful to establish committees in towns near 
the Austrian and German borders and to put them in touch with 
emigration aid groups just across the frontier in these two coun- 
tries, making for a most useful collaboration. The frontier 
committees established good relations with the border-control 
officials, and the local committees in the interior also dealt with 
local border-crossing problems. The chief exit points from Russia 



where these committees operated were Thorn, Myslowitz, Eydt- 
kuhnen and the Baltic port of Libau. 

The work of the Bureau and its hundreds of local committees 
was far from being merely informational. Among their principal 
functions was to help would-be emigrants through the procedures 
for obtaining passports and railway and steamship tickets and to 
represent them in the event of a dispute with the navigation 
companies. The bureaux got cheap steamship tickets for the emi- 
grants, secured fare reductions on the Russian railways and also, 
through the Israelitische Allianz in Vienna, on the Austro- 
Hungarian railways. At times they were able to form some of 
the emigrants into groups and shepherd them to the points of 
embarkation. A major objective was to protect the departing 
Jewish families against unscrupulous agents who were ready to 
take advantage of the ignorant and frightened travellers, for most 
of whom the journey overseas meant a plunge into the unknown. 

The bureaux did not sit back and wait for inquiries. They 
printed placards in Yiddish telling how to obtain visas and 
passports and posted them in synagogues. They published a bi- 
monthly newsletter, Derjudischer Emigrant, which furnished news 
on current government policy and regulations. They published a 
Manual of Emigration with separate sections on Australia, New 
Zealand and Argentina, and information sheets on the United 
States, describing living conditions and job opportunities. They 
also printed pamphlets giving instructions on the procedures for 
medical examinations. 

A particular concern was the health of the emigrants. Medical 
examinations were provided to ensure that they were not suffering 
from any disease that would bar them from entering their country 
of destination. Special attention was paid to the condition of the 
eyes, for any manifestation of eye trouble would make it impos- 
sible to enter the United States. For this reason a special eye clinic 
was established in the town of Homel. In 1913 the Committees 
in Kiev, Minsk, Warsaw, Kovno and other cities received special 
JCA subsidies to enable them to organise medical services. Thous- 
ands received examinations, and also treatment, often free. 

In this year there was an increase in emigration from the North- 
western area because of the widespread expulsion of Jews from 
rural localities on the pretext that they had been doing business 
illegally. The 153 committees functioning in this region received 
19,825 requests for information. In the Southwest, Jews were also 
subjected to mass expulsion and extreme harassment in conse- 
quence of anti-Semitic agitation. Economic conditions were poor 
in general, so that non-Jews also left the area, but in addition 
Jewish shopkeepers suffered from the competition of consumer 



co-operatives. In this region 197 committees received 26,619 
inquiries. In the South the story w^as broadly the same. Jewish 
farmers and tobacco planters v^^ere expelled en masse, and the 
Jewish population in Kherson and Bessarabia was very apprehen- 
sive of physical attack. From this part of the Empire there were 
7,470 requests for help and information, including 3,595 addressed 
to the Odessa office and 1,183 to the one in Kishinev, Bessarabia. 
The situation was no different in Russian Poland. Here Jewish 
merchants were subjected to a boycott and Jews were expelled 
from the countryside as they were forbidden to engage in farming 
on land owned by Polish nationals. Sixty local bureaux received 
10,596 inquiries. 

Totalling these figures, it appears that in all 63,340 inquiries 
concerning emigration were made to the Bureaux for Emigration 
Information in 1913. As each inquiry usually involved two 
persons, a total of at least 126,000 would-be emigrants received 
information from the bureaux. This number, is roughly equal to 
the figure for Russian Jewish arrivals overseas in 1913; 94,120 
went to the United States, 10,049 to Argentina, 9,882 to Canada, 
and a few thousand elsewhere - nearly 120,000 in all. 

Other activities 

The preceding pages have outlined the major enterprises 
conducted by JCA in Russia. There were also some minor ones, 
which are worth mentioning if only to demonstrate the depth 
and range of the work. Buildings in Vilna were erected with 
JCA's help by the Societe des Logements Hygieniques. In 1913 
these 200 apartments were all let, but JCA was operating them 
at a loss. In addition, in ten towns scattered through the country 
JCA had made loans to help build housing for two or three 
families in each that had been displaced by fires. In the summer 
of 1913 the Societe participated in an exhibition in Petrograd 
organised by the Interior Ministry and was awarded a silver medal 
on the basis of photographic brochures about the Vilna 

JCA also experimented, though on a small scale, with estab- 
Hshing selling co-operatives for Jewish artisans. Thus it promoted 
a store in Vilna to sell furniture and cabinets produced by an 
atelier-modele and twelve workshops belonging to Jewish cabinet- 
makers. In 1913 total sales amounted to 33,184 roubles. However, 
in order to dispose of its merchandise the store had to engage an 
agent to make sales to merchants in other cities; this ran up 
expenses and created a deficit. There was a similar furniture store 



in Bobruisk which operated without a deficit, and another in 
Home] for the sale of shoes made by 75 artisans. The weaving 
mill at Dubrovna continued to operate, giving a livelihood to 500 

All of this gave JCA hope for the future. That future came all 
too soon. Eight months into 1914, the First World War was 
raging. Since the Jewish Pale ran roughly along the Russian border 
with Germany and Austria-Hungary, much of the fighting took 
place in areas where the Jewish population was concentrated, as 
indeed did the civil wars after the Bolshevik Revolution as well 
as the Russo-Polish War of 1920-1. The devastation consequent 
on these conflicts and the disturbances and pogroms that accom- 
panied them wiped out the elaborate networks of institutions that 
the Jewish community, with the help of the Central Committee 
of JCA in Petrograd (now Leningrad), had developed. After the 
war, when the Communist government had re-established some 
sort of order, JCA re-entered the country and embarked on a 
programme to help the surviving Jewish farmers and others in 
the Ukraine. We shall talk about this in a later chapter. But the 
bulk of its enterprises in Russia were destroyed by the war, the 
revolution and their aftermath. 

The czarist regime was dictatorial, rigid and suspicious of 
innovation. Nevertheless, it apparently never raised serious objec- 
tion to the widespread range of JCA's activities before the First 
World War. A primary school system, a group of vocational 
schools, conventions and colloquia for the teachers freely attended 
by those who wished to go, hundreds of small savings and loan 
agencies with hundreds of thousands of members, and hundreds 
of bureaux distributing information on how to emigrate - all 
this considerable apparatus directed and subsidised by a foreign 
organisation could have been snuffed out in an instant if the 
government had so decreed. So if as the preceding pages have 
shown, czarist Russia was an utterly miserable place for Jews, it 
was also a place which for a time granted them latitude to create 
elaborate self-help institutions and, more notably, allowed these 
institutions to receive assistance from outside the country. 

JCA's activities in Russia were also notable for what they indi- 
cated about JCA itself Many if not most of these activities were 
far removed from any connection with agriculture, demonstrating 
that, despite the Baron's almost mystical feeling that 'salvation' 
for Jews would be found in their becoming farmers, the Council 
recognised that, as a practical matter (and indeed as the statutes 
of the Association provided), a multi-faceted approach was 
required even to begin to address the infinitely complex problem 
of helping the Jewish population in Russia and elsewhere. 


Assisted by JCA from 1 896 

Entrusted to JCA's administration A 
by Baron de Rothschild in 1899 

Others founded or assisted by ■ 

JCA during its administration, 

A Bat Shiomo 
Zichron Yaakov 
■ Givat Ada 

▲ Hadera 

^Metulla. ' 

^ ■ Tel-Hai 



' Yessod Hama'ala 

Ayelet Hashachar B^t^ishmar 
' OHayarden 

■ IVIachanayim 
SAFED* ^RoshPina 



SedjeraB K,nneret\ 

Yavnieli._ .. 
Kfar Tabor ■ "BetGan 


▲ Kfar Sabah 

A Petach Tikvah 

A Rishon-le-Zion 
O Ness Ziona 

O Rehovoth 
A Ekron 


Kfar Uriya 

Har Tuv 




Map 2 Palestine: Settlements associated with JCA, 1896-1924 


JCA in Palestine 

The JC A report for the year 1 896, which opened with the announce- 
ment of the Baron's death, contained, a few pages further on, a 
brief statement to the effect that JCA was looking for settlement 
opportunities in Palestine and Asia JMinor. With the benefit of 
nearly a century of hindsight, we can now appreciate that this 
comparatively inconspicuous reference marked a matter of great 
importance in the history of JCA. It signified the initiation of 
what has become the organisation's most important mission; for, 
after the establishment and conclusion of programmes in more 
than twenty countries, the most influential and vital function of 
JCA has been and still is its activity in Israel. When the final 
history of JCA is written, it will be recorded that the Association's 
accompHshments in Palestine/Israel constituted its greatest and 
most effective contribution to the well-being of the Jewish people. 

In Palestine in 1896, however, JCA was not the pioneering 
agency that it had been in Argentina five years before. A number 
of Russian and Romanian Jews had already settled in Palestine in 
the early 1880s, attempting to make a living on the land. They 
were impelled in part by the wave of pogroms that had broken 
out after the assassination of Czar Alexander II in 1882. Most of 
the Jews who fled Russia at this time made for America; the 
few who went to Palestine were proto-Zionists who had already 
subscribed to the idea that the only salvation for Jews was to be 
found by settling in the ancestral homeland and cultivating its soil 
as their forefathers had done two thousand years before. Some of 
these enthusiasts belonged to a loose organisation called 'Chovevei 
Zion' (Lovers of Zion)', some to local groups in cities like Warsaw 
or Odessa, and some were unaffiliated. 

The first 'new' colony was Petach Tikvah, northeast of Jaffa, 
founded as early as 1878 by Jews from Hungary and others already 
living in Jerusalem. This colony had been abandoned, but was 
restarted by a Russian group m 1883. In 1882 Romanian settlers 
founded Zichron-Yaakov, halfway between Tel-Aviv and Haifa, 
and Rosh Pinna in the interior of the country to the northeast. In 
1883 the area of Rishon-le-Zion, also near Jaffa, was purchased 



by a contingent of Russian Jews who had landed in that port. 
Native-born Palestinian Jews from Safed established the agricul- 
tural village of Mishmar Hayarden in Galilee in 1884. By 1886 
another set of immigrants had bought land at Waad-el-Hanine 
(now Ness Ziona) bordering Rehovoth on the west. In 1890 a 
Warsaw society purchased the area of Rehovoth itself, and groups 
from Vilna, Riga and Kovno acquired Hedera, near the coast 
between Jaffa and Haifa. 2 

All these settlements suffered common, and nearly fatal, trials. 
The immigrant founders generally expended all their capital in 
getting to Palestine and buying land; they had little or no money 
left for the purchase of seed, animals and implements. Though 
they were eager to till the soil, they had no experience or know- 
ledge of agriculture, and the soil itself was sandy or rocky or 
both. In addition, while water was lacking, the areas intended for 
farming were often near marshes, which were excellent breeding 
grounds for malaria-spreading mosquitoes. Then the colonists 
had to deal with the capricious Turkish administration, which 
forbade foreigners to buy land in one town and permitted land 
purchases somewhere else but prohibited houses from being built 
thereon. With so many obstacles to overcome, the fragile new 
colonies came close to collapse within months of their founding. 

Petach Tikvah, Zichron-Yaakov, Rishon-le-Zion, Rosh Pinna 
and other pioneer colonies were saved by the intercession of a 
fabulously wealthy Jewish baron. This saviour baron was not 
Maurice de Hirsch but Edmond de Rothschild, a scion of the 
French branch of that most famous Jewish family who shared 
many similarities of both temperament and attitude with Hirsch. 
Rothschild was dictatorial and paternalistic and would not brook 
opposition. He believed that it was important as a defence against 
anti-Semitism to prove that Jews could be successful farmers, and 
he therefore would not permit mdustrial work of any kind to be 
performed in 'his' colonies. 

Baron Edmond de Rothschild 

Edmond de Rothschild differed from Maurice de Hirsch in being 
more religious; and though not a Zionist in the nationalistic sense, 
he had an appreciation for the spiritual appeal of Palestine to 
Jewry in the Diaspora, a sentiment that was wholly alien to 
Hirsch. In 1882 Rothschild had had an emotional meeting with a 
charismatic rabbi, Reb Mohilever, who pressed him to sponsor 
Jewish settlement in Palestine. When this was followed by a 
visit from an emissary from Rishon-le-Zion with the same plea, 



Rothschild responded favourably and took immediate action to 
establish an organisation to advise and assist the colonists. In a 
fairly short time he was supporting an elaborate bureaucracy, 
with horticulturists trained in Versailles and wine experts who 
tried to teach the settlers to grow fine French grapes on the 
intractable Palestinian soil. Arrangements were made to pay very 
high prices for the grapes (which, of course, helped support the 
growers) and elaborate and expensive wine-pressing and storage 
facilities were built in Rishon-le-Zion and Zichron-Yaakov. 

It was not for lack of opportunity that Hirsch had been neither 
the founder nor the saviour of the original Jewish farm colonies. 
Early in the 1880s he had sent an agent, Veneziani, to Palestine 
accompanied by competent surveyors. Veneziani's report was 
quite discouraging; it noted the failure of the Jewish colonies 
already established to achieve any degree of self-sufficiency and 
emphasised the bad effect of the Palestinian environment on the 
health of the European settlers and especially of the children. 
Some years later Hirsch explained his feelings concerning settle- 
ment in Palestine in a long memorandum to a meeting convened 
in Paris in 1891 for the express purpose of bringing the two 
barons together to foster emigration to Syria and Palestine.^ 
Hirsch explained that it was not so much that he was against 
Palestine, which he thought might be investigated further, but 
because Argentina was so superior, with its large, fertile and 
unpopulated areas and its sound government, he had decided to 
concentrate his efforts there. (While this was true enough, settle- 
ment in Argentina presented plenty of difficulties, as he was to 
find out.) So Hirsch felt at the time; at other times and in other 
places he raised other objections. Palestine was in an area that 
might be seized by Russia; there was no point in moving Jews 
out from under the Czar's thumb only to have the Czar come 
after them, as it were. More serious, settlement in Palestine 
required dealing with the Turkish government; this, as Hirsch 
well knew from his own experience, would be difficult, expensive 
and fraught with uncertainty. Above all, what deterred him, or 
at least gave him an excellent pretext for inaction, was the fact 
that Edmond de Rothschild was already deeply committed to 
helping the nascent Jewish colonies in Palestine, and Hirsch had 
no wish to compete with him. 

What Hirsch did not appreciate was the power of an idea, in 
this case the idea of the return to the ancestral homeland. Indeed, 
Herzl, after his famous interview with Hirsch, in a letter to him 
said just that: 'It is with a flag that people are led whithersoever 
one desires, even to the Promised Land. For a flag men hve and 



Hirsch and Herzl 

In June 1895, Theodor Herzl met the Baron de Hirsch in the 
latter's home in Paris. The notion of Zionism, of the return of 
the Jews to their ancient homeland, as a means of resolving the 
'Jewish problem' was simmering in Herzl's mind. It was while 
he had as yet no firm plan for an organisation, or even for the 
kind of book he wanted to write to pubhcise his ideas, that he 
was moved to approach the Baron, so well known for his interest 
in his co-rehgionists. Herzl wrote, 'You have hitherto been only 
a philanthropist. ... I want to show you the way to become 
something more.' Hirsch was willing to be shown and made an 
appointment. At the meeting Herzl put forward some visionary 
schemes for Hirsch to implement, such as awarding prizes for 
notable achievements, apparently with the idea that publicising 
great accomplishments by Jews would dispel anti-Semitism. The 
Promised Land was hardly mentioned. 

Herzl also spoke of raising the 'general moral level'. Hirsch 
broke in, 'No, no, no. I do not want to raise the general level. 
All our misfortunes come from the fact that the Jews want to 
climb too high. We have too much brains. My intention is to 
restrain the Jews from pushing ahead. All of the hatred against 
us stems from this.' 

Perhaps because the Baron, who had promised not to interrupt 
him, spoke up after he had covered only six of his twenty-two 
pages of notes, Herzl broke off the interview, but not before the 
Baron had said, 'This is not our last conversation. ' 

In the next couple of weeks Herzl wrote two long letters to 
the Baron, containing some of his ideas about raising money to 
finance the exodus of Jews to the Promised Land. Among other 
points, he called attention to the power of an ideal, as mentioned 
above. The Baron replied briefly from London that he would be 
glad to see Herzl again but that this could be only after his return 
to Paris some months later. The sensitive Herzl interpreted this 
as a polite dismissal and fired off yet a third letter to the Baron, 
saying that there was little point in further communication; but 
in his diary he wrote, 'If this man goes along with me, we may 
really change our times. '"• 

In the few months remaining before the Baron's death Herzl 
made no attempt to communicate with him, but on 21 April 1896 
he wrote to his associate Nordau suggesting that the latter sound 
out the Baron for a donation - too late, alas, for this was the day 
the Baron died. Herzl then wrote in his diary, 'His death is a loss 
to the Jewish cause. Among the rich Jews he was the only one 
who wanted to do something big for the poor ones. Today I have 



the feeling that our cause has grown poorer. For I always believed 
I would still win Hirsch over to the plan.'^ This may be an 
instance of over-optimism on the part of Herzl, who to sustain 
his drive for Zionism needed to be an optimist. Hirsch's general 
inclination was against enterprises in Palestine, though there was 
a certain ambiguity in his attitude. 

JCA's first steps in Palestine 

At the Council meeting held on 15 October 1896, six months 
after the Baron's death, Zadoc Kahn, the Chief Rabbi of France, 
proposed that the Association should grant loans to colonies in 
Palestine established by emigrants from Russia. This suggestion 
provoked more controversy than was usual at Council meetings. 
Herbert Lousada, the solicitor, took particular exception to it, 
pointing out that JCA's function was to move Jews out of Asia 
as well as Europe and that, moreover, the Baron himself had been 
opposed to settlement in Palestine. The Rabbi replied that he was 
concerned not to have JCA set up colonies but merely to help 
individuals in trouble. As for the Baron not wishing to act in 
Palestine, that was because someone else (Edmond de Rothschild) 
was already doing this; furthermore, in Hirsch's memorandum 
to the Paris meeting in 1891 he had indicated that he had a positive 
interest in settlement in Palestine (this seems to have been a rather 
strained interpretation on the part of the Rabbi). Mr Plotke, the 
German member, poured oil on troubled waters by the customary 
device of proposing a committee to study the question and if 
necessary send an emissary to the area to prepare a detailed report 
to the Council. In the meantime, might not the Council, without 
commitment, vote loans for settlers in two or three colonies? The 
Council then agreed to make advances to three colonies to a 
maximum of 157,000 francs. 

The Council, however, at the same meeting refused requests 
for assistance from certain charitable organisations operating in 
Palestine, wishing to maintain the principle that JCA's own phil- 
anthropic activities should be given preference over the subven- 
tioning of other charities. 

JCA's pohcy on this beginning of its work in Palestine was 
thus not to establish its own new colonies, as it had done in 
Argentina and Canada, but to come to the assistance of settle- 
ments that were not being helped by Baron Rothschild. Such were 
the first three that received credits in 1896: Mishmar Hayarden in 
Galilee, and Ness Ziona and Guedera in Judea. The next year JCA 
- not without some opposition in the Council - extended its 



Operations to Rehovoth, the biggest colony in Judea, and Hedera 
in Samaria. As in the first three settlements, JCA in general made 
loans to individual families for particular projects. In Mishmar 13 
families had received such loans in 1896, and more advances were 
then made to install 12 new families. In Ness Ziona 9 families 
received credits to buy vines, plant orange trees, buy animals and 
tools and repair houses. JCA also hired a graduate of Mikveh- 
Israel, the agricultural school near Jaffa founded by the Alliance 
Israehte in 1870, to provide instruction and advice. In Hedera 
JCA was concerned about miasmas arising from marshes nearby, 
but when assured that these would be drained it was willing to 
make loans to 35 families to buy cattle, tools and seed and to 
construct houses and stables. In Rehovoth it made advances for 
the purchase of vines and cattle and for the repair of houses. It 
also made loans collectively for the construction of a mill to grind 
the locally produced wheat and barley, the digging of a reservoir 
and the purchase of a pump. It is obvious from this long list of 
actions taken that, once having decided to work in Palestine, JCA 
did not hesitate to go full steam ahead. 

The next year saw more of the same. Of the 20 settlers in Ness 
Ziona, 15 received loans for the purchase of cattle and vines and 
for house construction. The Turkish government made difficulties 
before building permits were granted, but finally 12 small houses 
and stables were put up, each in a court enclosed by walls. Irrig- 
ation ditches were also dug, and, in listing the crops here, JCA 
called attention to the excellent grove of young orange trees, 
which gave great hope for the future. And indeed, to this day 
Ness Ziona is an important producer of oranges. In Rehovoth 
further loans were made for the building of dwellings and to 
enable the settlers, all of whom now had both horses and cows, 
to buy the implements they lacked. In Guedera (Katra), estab- 
lished by young Russian Jews in 1884, collective loans were again 
made, to install a pump and a mill. The JCA and Rothschild 
colonies were not aloof from each other; for example, Ness Ziona 
and Rehovoth sent their grapes to Rishon-le-Zion to be pressed. 

The year 1898 saw two important new developments. First, 
JCA purchased land near Sedjera, in the Tiberias area, with the 
intention of founding a new colony. Land purchases by JCA and 
by Baron Rothschild, and also, as we shall see later, by both 
jointly, were an important part of the process of enlarging the 
territory owned by Jews in Palestine. Later history showed that 
these purchases were a vital contribution to the basis for what 
eventually became the Jewish State. 

JCA's other new departure was its attempt to help the poor 
Jews in Jerusalem. From time immemorial the great majority of 



Jews in that city had lived on Chaluka, donations by the Jews of 
the Diaspora, in return for which the Jerusalemites prayed for the 
souls of their benefactors. The Alliance Israelite had estabhshed a 
vocational school in the city to teach useful trades, and its gradu- 
ates, who had settled in Damascus, Salonika and elsewhere, were 
reported to be doing well. For its part, in 1898 JCA started a 
weaving atelier which employed 26 workers and distributed a 
number of knitting machines. The Association was to do more 
along these lines in subsequent years. 

The Rothschild colonies 

While JCA had moved wholeheartedly into Palestine and had for 
the most part expanded its initial operations there, the number of 
'its' colonies and their population were much smaller than the 
Baron de Rothschild's. But by this time that Baron was beginning 
to have, not doubts, for his faith in his great Palestinian enterprise 
seems never to have diminished, but second thoughts about the 
way in which it was being conducted. A series of reports written 
towards the end of the decade by D. Apfelbaum, a horticultural 
expert, raised some pertinent and troubling questions. For 
example, it was pointed out that, in its 16 years of existence, 
Zichron-Yaakov had cost Rothschild no less than 1 1 million gold 
francs and there seemed no prospect of reducing this outflow. In 
fact, the whole basis of Rothschild's efforts was questioned by 
Apfelbaum, who noted that there were in effect two classes of 
farmers in the Rothschild colonies. The first class enjoyed a pass- 
able standard of living, because they were paid much more for 
their produce than its market value - to Rothschild's loss. The 
second class consisted of those who came outside the administra- 
tion's purview and who made a minimal living as labourers. 
Apfelbaum proposed to cure this anomalous situation by estab- 
lishing co-operative settlements akin to the present-day Israeli 
moshavim, to be made viable by investing heavily in modern 
implements. Furthermore, such a co-operative development 
among the Jewish settlers would make unnecessary the use of 
Arab labour, which was increasing - a situation that greatly 
distressed Rothschild who was most anxious to have it demon- 
strated that Jews could be successful farm workers as well as 

It must be noted that the accumulation of losses was due in 
part to Rothschild's stubborn preconceptions. He insisted that his 
colonies grow wine grapes of high quahty, though the soil and 
climate were not appropriate, and to encourage such culture he 



paid extravagant prices for the grapes produced and constructed 
very expensive wine cellars. As Schama says, Rothschild felt that 
the Jewish farmers should live like the native fellahin; yet he 
wanted them to produce 'fancy' crops - such as silk, or geraniums 
for perfume - rather than the plebeian coarse grains and chick-peas 
grown by the indigenous population.^ Another factor affecting 
Rothschild's state of mind was a long siege of bad health, which 
continued in some degree until he underwent major surgery in 
1918. (He died in 1934, aged 89.) Also, he may have discerned 
that he was not in a good position to impose the economies in 
administration that were so patently required. Finally, the Chov- 
evei Zion and the noted essayist Achad Ha'am had severely criti- 
cised the Rothschild administration for its dictatorial attitude, 
which fostered a spirit of extreme dependency among the settlers.^ 

The Commission Palestinienne 

Many factors, then, contributed to Rothschild's decision in 1899 
to turn the control of his colonies over to JCA. However, he was 
far from being left out of the picture. The agreement for the 
transfer of the administration laid down that the future policy of 
the Rothschild colonies would be established by a 'Commission 
Palestinienne', to consist of three members selected by JCA and 
two selected by Rothschild, with the sixth member and President 
for life being Baron Edmond himself, who immediately provided 
the Commission with 15 milhon francs. So while JCA might 
administer, the Baron still held the purse strings. From 1900 to 
1924, when JCA gave up the administration of the Rothschild 
colonies, its reports on its Palestinian activities were carefully 
divided between accounts of the Baron's settlements and those of 
its own, plus its activities in Jerusalem. 

Having agreed to the arrangement (not without some reserva- 
tions on the part of Council members, who considered that this 
added burden would be too much for Council and staff), JCA set 
about converting the Rothschild administration into a facsimile 
of its own. It reduced the staff, put an end to the system of 
subsidies that the Baron had instituted (though it was ready to 
make loans in time of necessity), and tried to ehminate or cut 
down on all non-productive expenses. One step towards achiev- 
ing this end was to make the colonists themselves responsible for 
sanitation, control of water supphes and communal activities, 
including the estabhshment of co-operatives, notably the Societe 
Cooperative Vigneronne. As Emile Meyerson, then Joint Director 
of JCA, put it rather deHcately, Rothschild, while emphasising 



technical accomplishments, had been neglectful of economic 
reality - to wit, costs as well as means of marketing the crops 

JCA attacked the first of these problems by cutting the prices 
paid for grapes. This inspired a near revolt among the settlers, 
who sent a deputation to Paris. Actually, this delegation's propo- 
sals were in agreement with many of JCA's actions: it favoured 
a reduced administrative overhead and asked for more land for 
the colonies and the elimination of Arab labour; the delegates 
also wanted more autonomy, doing away with the necessity of 
referring all important decisions to Paris. This last demand infuri- 
ated Rothschild (whose choler was easily aroused). He told the 
delegation off roundly, asserting that JCA should be firm, even 
harsh, with the colonists. And JCA did indeed remove some 
families it considered unsuitable, but, following the precedent set 
in similar cases in Argentina, it paid them compensation. 

As a further step in improving the economic situation, JCA 
tried to wean the colonists away from dependence on a single 
crop, usually grapes (it managed to reduce the number of vines 
even at Zichron-Yaakov), and not only to diversify, but to diver- 
sify in the direction of growing oriental crops like chick-peas and 
sesame, and - always a favourite ploy of JCA - to introduce 
grande culture, the growing of the basics, like wheat and other 
grains, rather than try to practise horticulture in the manner of 

This attempt to prune Palestinian agriculture of all esoterica, 
however, was not altogether successful. Under Rothschild, 
attempts had been made in Rosh Pinna and elsewhere to grow 
mulberry bushes and develop silk culture, one argument being 
that women could be employed in the spinning and weaving. 
Even after JCA took over, efforts to produce silk continued for 
some years, until its manifest unadaptability to conditions in the 
Holy Land finally forced its abandonment. 

Other activities 

JCA continued to help the poor inhabitants of Jerusalem. In 1901 
it inaugurated a loan kassa, which made 89 loans to small shop- 
keepers, workers and artisans. It also began a programme of 
building houses for workers, rather grandiloquently labelled cites 
ouvrieres, though no more than 50-100 houses were built alto- 
gether, and not all in 1901. It also distributed a number of knitting 
machines, as it continued to do for many years thereafter. It 
supported a small weaving establishment, the products of which 



were sold in Damascus and Cairo. None of these programmes 
was very important in itself. However, they were interesting in 
that, together with similar and contemporaneous projects in 
Russia, they mark the commencement ofJCA's assistance to Jews 
who were not somehow connected with agriculture. 

Expansion of Jewish settlement 

From 1903 to 1914 the population of Jews in Palestine doubled, 
from 40,000 to 80,000. The population of the Rothschild and JCA 
colonies followed this trend. In 1903 there were 4,900 individuals 
under the jurisdiction of the Commission Palestinienne and a few 
hundred more in the JCA colonies, half in Rehovoth. By 1911 
there were 7,417 living in these farm settlements and by 1913 
about 9,000. Clearly, progress was being made in the basic task 
of building up the population of Jews within Palestine in general 
and on the land in particular. 

Not only did the number of farmers increase, but so did the 
amount of land at their disposal. Almost every year important 
land acquisitions were made - in the Tiberias area, other places 
in Galilee, near Rishon, near Petach Tikvah and elsewhere. These 
purchases were made by the Commission Palestinienne, by JCA 
and at times by the settlers themselves (notably at Sarafand, 
between Jaffa and Jerusalem) with the aid ofJCA loans. Especially 
active in this sphere was Chaim Kalvarisky, an agent of JCA, 
who was a bold, swashbuckling corner-cutter, not above greasing 
an outstretched palm or neglecting a legal nicety. But if the 
agreements that Kalvarisky made were not completely watertight, 
JCA's very capable lawyers saw to it that all leaks were plugged 
by the time the deeds were put into final form. Kalvarisky is to 
be remembered not only for his large and important land 
purchases but because, earlier than most, he understood the 
benefits that would accrue from Jewish-Arab co-operation, a 
highly desirable end which now appears impossible to attain, but 
which perhaps might have been attainable if more people had 
shared Kalvarisky's foresight. 

The bland statement that the Jewish population in Palestine 
doubled in the ten years before the First World War and that 
Jewish landholdings concomitantly increased should not be inter- 
preted to imply that these developments came about easily or 
without interruption. The earher years of this period were marked 
by severe droughts, widespread epidemics that resulted in the 
death of a large proportion of the cattle, and depredations by field 
mice, who made up for their small size by huge numbers which 



devastated the grain crops. Nor were the settlers' troubles all due 
to natural causes. Some were man-made. 

Their Arab neighbours, and sometimes the nomadic Bedouin, 
occasionally raided Jewish fields and warehouses. There were not 
many instances of attacks on individuals, but these did happen, 
and some Jews were killed. The colony that was most affected 
by difficulties with the native population was the isolated 
northernmost one of Metulla, which was in perpetual conflict 
with a neighbouring Druze village. A situation like this was a 
patent call to the Jewish settlers to embark on organised self- 

Nor were all the man-made troubles due to action by Arabs. 
The year 1909-10 was one o( shemita, the sabbatical year enjoined 
by the Bible when lands were supposed to lie fallow, unworked. 
In 1895-6, during the Rothschild regime, there had been efforts 
by some settlers to observe the year of shemita, but in 1902-3, 
after JCA took over, no colonist paid any attention to the biblical 
injunction. In 1907, however, the farmers in two Galilee villages, 
Yesud Hal'va'da and Mishmar Hayarden, declared their intention 
to carry out the letter of the law and abstain from planting. It 
must be stated that this decision was not the result of a sudden 
spate of religious zeal' but was due to the fact that a rabbi in Safed 
had promised these farmers a generous gift if they would not 
plant. Kalvarisky and Frank, the JCA officials in charge, were 
taken utterly by surprise because the previous shemita period had 
passed without incident, but they recovered quickly and warned 
the newly observant farmers that JCA would lease their lands to 
Arabs for the season and confiscate their cattle. As Schama points 
out, 'such a measure was in accordance with religious precepts, 
being in effect a "Gentile sale" '. In the event, the JCA administra- 
tion carried out their threat and went ahead with leasing the lands 
to Arabs. Fortunately, at the end of the year the leased areas 
reverted to the Jewish settlers without incident, and JCA 
'ploughed back the rental into the running of the two colonies'. 

The improvement in the situation of the Jewish farm colonies 
over the first ten years of the twentieth century was not due 
altogether to the fact that weather conditions in the latter part of 
the decade were much better than in the former. The tightened 
and realistic administration of JCA also had something to do with 
it, although, interestingly enough, at the end of the decade, at the 
1912 annual meeting, JCA's President, Narcisse Leven, solemnly 
intoned a pessimistic forecast concerning the future. Palestine was 
different from and more difficult than other loci of JCA activity 
like Canada, Brazil and Argentina, he said, echoing a plaint first 
uttered in 1905. Palestine did not inspire much hope as a place of 



mass settlement for Jews because it was already thickly settled, 
unlike these other countries. Monsieur Leven was belied in part 
by the contemporary rural population figures that we have just 
seen (let alone by what has happened since then). Though the 
figures did not add up to great masses, they were not much 
smaller than those for the JCA colonies in Argentina. 

JCA's special contribution 

We can point to a number of specific JCA policies that were 
particularly useful in improving farming conditions and thus 
helping to attract immigrants. One was the encouragement of 
citriculture, which was favoured by the climate, did not then 
require a huge investment and was well suited to family farming. 
In particular, D. Bril, the JCA agent in Petach Tikvah, himself a 
large orange grower, encouraged the farmers there to put in new 
orange varieties, to irrigate their orchards by the use of motor 
pumps and to employ insecticides. These were options open to 
the Jewish farmers because they could obtain JCA financing, an 
advantage their Arab neighbours did not enjoy. Not surprisingly, 
citrus output increased enormously in the Jewish settlements, 
notably Petach Tikvah and Ness Ziona. 

Perhaps because of the success of the selling co-operatives, 
which had sprung up early in the JCA's Argentine colonies, JCA 
was assiduous in sponsoring similar developments in Palestine 
and assisting co-operatives there with advice and loans. Two 
orange-selling co-operatives were formed, and the grape growers 
were united in the Societe Cooperative Vigneronne (SCV), which 
was given control of the wine-pressing and storing facilities at 
Rishon-le-Zion and Zichron-Yaakov and was also assigned the 
responsibility of disposing of the product. In some years, as in 
1906, the SCV, which was not aiming at a quahty product as had 
been the case in Rothschild's day, was able to sell wine for the 
mass market quite successfully. However, the Palestinian produc- 
tion now had to compete with that of other mass producers like 
North Africa, Spain or Italy, and this competition in many later 
years was difficult to contend with.'" 

Another contribution of JCA was to improve ancillary services, 
such as the water supply, and see to it that medical attention was 
available on a regular basis. JCA also brought about a reform 
in the educational apparatus of the colonies, which under the 
Rothschild regime had consisted of a group of traditional chederim 
staffed by equally traditional melamdim. JCA introduced teachers 



trained by the Alliance Israelite in contemporary pedagogical 
methods and culture. 

The Association also contributed to the advancement of Jewish 
agriculture in Palestine by its operation in Sedjera, located 
southwest of the Sea of Gahlee, where the land had been pur- 
chased in 1899. The settlement contained 18,000 dunams (4,500 
acres), half of which was cultivable. The land, instead of being 
leased or sold to settlers, was operated by workers under JCA 
supervision with the intention of training them as practical agri- 
culturists. For a time the redoubtable Kalvarisky was in charge. 
He laid out a programme for the employment of 60-70 workers 
for a year or two; they would then move on to farms elsewhere 
in Palestine while a new group of trainees replaced them. Given 
the fact that a large proportion of agricultural school graduates 
customarily found work in other occupations whereas the 
majority of those who worked in Sedjera remained in agriculture, 
the experiment can be termed a success." 

Arab opposition 

In 1908 the Young Turk Revolution took place in European 
Turkey, forcing the Sultan to grant a constitution. The excitement 
generated by this event seemed to exacerbate the feelings of the 
local fellahin against the Jewish settlers in Sedjera. Scuffles and 
attacks ensued, in the course of which three settlers were killed 
and a fourth, David Grien by name (later David Ben Gurion), 
was wounded. 

This conflict with their neighbours prompted the residents of 
Sedjera to form the first unit of Hashomer, the Jewish self-defence 
force in Palestine before the First World War, the ancestor of the 
Haganah. The fighting died down after 1908 and Sedjera returned 
to normal. The settlement proved in the long run not to be viable, 
however, because of a lack of water, and it was more or less 
abandoned in the 1930s. But in the earlier years of its existence it 
performed a useful educational function for hundreds of Jewish 
farm settlers. 


While the main focus of JCA's work in Palestine was the farming 
settlements, it continued its activity in Jerusalem. In 1909 the 
Association reported that the loan kassa there, in the ten years 
since its founding, had made 1,060 advances; and 359 accounts 



were still open. In that same year one knitting machine was turned 
over to a user, bringing the total distributed to 125. hi the cite 
ouuriere of Nahalat-Zion 53 houses had been completed and all 
were occupied. There is no mention of the weaving establishment 
after 1903 in the JCA reports, so it must be inferred that it was 
discontinued, but the other activities went on as before. In 1912 
the kassa made 121 loans and was owed 87,465 francs on 429 
outstanding debts; 5 knitting machines were distributed; and 64 
families lived in the cite ouvriere. In the following year all payments 
due on the kassa's loans, on the knitting machines and the rents 
on the workers' houses were paid on time. Such was the situation 
in Jerusalem on the eve of the First World War, which was to 
disrupt Jewish life in both the towns and the farms of Palestine 
and to bring about a complete overturn in the government of 
the area. We must mention one more facet of JCA's activity in 
Jerusalem, which was its financing of the departure of Jewish 
families who had given up hope in Palestine and wanted to leave 
the country. In almost every year under review, JCA helped a 
small number (12-15) of families to depart. 


Turning back to the farm settlements, what was their status just 
before the First World War broke out? Due credit has to be given 
for difficulties overcome or at least combated, for it must be 
confessed that the previous pages have not stressed sufficiently 
the heavy obstacles and handicaps faced by the pioneering settlers; 
to have listed all the droughts and other unfortunate vagaries of 
the weather, the epidemics that afflicted both humans and cattle, 
the losses caused by insects and field mice, the hostile actions of 
the natives (which in 1912 made necessary large expenditures for 
guarding the fields against predatory nomads and Bedouin) would 
weary the reader with repetition. Nevertheless, these economic, 
physical and psychological factors must be remembered and taken 
into account in trying to appraise what had been accomplished 
up to 1914 by Baron Edmond, the Commission Palestinienne and 
JCA. We should like to quote Simon Schama's assessment: 

What had been achieved on the eve of the war? It is tempting, 
given subsequent developments, to see the period as one in 
which the Jewish settlement put down firm roots in Palestine, 
but its growth was as yet very limited and expensively 
maintained. Of the 30,000-40,000 Jewish immigrants since 
1882, barely a quarter were on the land and most of those 



concentrated in the colonies of the south. The ideal of the self- 
reliant cultivator, whether a yeoman peasant or comrade of 
the soil, had been realised in only a handful of farms in Galilee. 
Their finances were always a headache for the JCA 
administration, and their security already seriously imperilled. 
Yet, arguably, some sort of beginning had been made. The 
JCA stewardship had brought the settlements from a period 
of feverish oscillation between financial cosseting and 
threatened bankruptcy towards a cooler and more realistic 
appreciation of their potential and their limitations. The wine 
and citrus industries seemed to be established on a reasonably 
sound basis and the co-operatives producing and marketing 
them certainly marked an important step forward in the 
economic independence of the 'Yishuv' But they were still 
terribly vulnerable to sharp changes in world commodity 
prices. That was even more the case for the cereal farming, 
which provided the major part of the income of the Galilean 
settlements. Their major achievement was, in any case, 
unquantifiable. By simply surviving they demonstrated that 
Jewish agriculture could succeed without depending on Arab 
labour and without being spoon-fed by enormous subsidies. 
To that extent, the JCA principle that the paternalistic 
'tutelle' of the earlier period had not only not helped the 
viability of the colonies, but had actually hindered it, seemed 
to have been borne out.^^ 

Beyond demonstrating that Jews could farm successfully in 
Palestine, the JCA and Rothschild settlements were, as we have 
said, important participants in the laying of the foundation of the 
future Jewish State. Baron de Rothschild at the beginning, JCA 
and the Commission Palestinienne afterwards, acquired hundreds 
of thousands of dunams in Galilee and in Judea. Not only did 
they buy land directly but, as we have seen, they made loans to 
individual farmers for land purchase and also lent large sums to 
the Palestine Land Development Company (PLDC), a Zionist 
agency, to enable it to acquire territory. A look at a map showing 
the holdings of JCA and the Commission superimposed on the 
proposed Jewish areas in British-sponsored partition plans of the 
1930s will show that much of the latter consisted of land originally 
owned by JCA and Baron Edmond, who himself possessed about 
half a million dunams when he died in 1934. Nor was JCA 
content just to buy land. It peopled the areas it acquired, founding 
settlements like Yavneel, I3et Gan, Mesha and many others in 
Galilee. '3 In asserting Jewish claims later, the presence of people 
was probably even more important than ownership of the land. 




'-V --v,. 







« Montefiore /' 

[ »Moisesville / 


Cordoba I 

/Santa / 

'Fer ' 




Santa Isabel 's 
C San Antonio 

\ ',ENTRE» Lucienville 
Rosario^RIOS > 

Baron Hirsch 4 






Narcisse Leven 

Bahia Blanca 

100 200 300 400 500 

Map 3 JCA colonies in Argentina 


Argentine Colonies 

At the turn of the century 

In 1896, the year of the Baron's death, there were four JCA 
settlements in Argentina: 

1 Moisesville in Santa Fe province, with 91 families of 'colonists', 
that is, settlers who were working tracts of land which they 
would ultimately own; 

2 Mauricio in Buenos Aires province, with 187 colonist families; 

3 San Antonio in Entre-Rios province, with 44 famihes; 

4 the much larger settlement of Clara, also in Entre-Rios, which 
comprised 18 sub-settlements, some of which were occupied 
by the groups of fifty which had been organised in Russia. 
There were 588 colonist families in the Clara aggregate. 

Altogether, there were 910 families in the four colonies. There 
were also Jewish storekeepers and health and farm workers and 
their families. With the inclusion of the service personnel and 
workers and their families, there were 6,757 individuals in the 

JCA owned 200,000 hectares of land (500,000 acres), and the 
colonists occupied about half this area. Thus on the average each 
farming family had about 275 acres at its disposal. They cultivated 
about 100,000 acres, the most important crop by far being grain, 
mostly wheat, which occupied three-quarters of the planted area. 
Flax and maize were the other important crops. There were 
considerable plantings of alfalfa (lucerne) in Moisesville and small 
amounts in some of the Clara settlements, and also some vegetable 

At the beginning of 1896 the administration felt that the colon- 
ists had made sufficient progress to enable the payment of subsi- 
dies to them to be discontinued, except for the newly arrived and 
the elderly poor; but a bad crop in 1896, following a similarly 
inadequate one in 1895, forced the Buenos Aires office to resume 
payments. However, says the 1896 Annual Report, despite the 
two successive poor crop years, and despite 'the plague of locusts 



and tempestuous rains, the colonists approach their work with 
ardour'. More tangible evidence of development was the presence 
of two steam mills in the Clara complex which were operating 
successfully, and the opening of two new schools there, albeit 
quite primitive ones. At the Baron's death, in accordance with a 
wish he had expressed, the colonists' debts were reduced by 25 
per cent. Small amounts on account of these debts were in fact 
repaid to JCA in 1896. Another telling sign that the colonists felt 
they were in Argentina to stay was the creation of a fire insurance 
company in 1899. 

In one respect, however, no advance was made during the 
remaining years of the nineteenth century. In 1896 the number 
of colonist families was 910, in 1900 only 906, and the count 
had fallen lower in the intervening years. There was much move- 
ment in and out of the colonies. JCA consoled itself by asserting 
that the people who went were unsuited to agriculture and 
congratulated itself on the purge of inadequate individuals. To 
balance the losses and to add a young, spirited element to the 
colony the administration installed 115 families of sons and sons- 
in-law who had previously been considered part of the fathers' 
families and who had not enjoyed a sufficient share in the crops 
that they had helped to produce. And the next year JCA installed 
200 immigrants who had come from Russia at their own risk and 

Another evidence of progress, or at least of the Association's 
visibility on the Argentine scene, was the governmental decree in 

1899 freeing JCA from taxes because of its 'charitable purpose'. 
The chaos and lack of planning that had marked the settlement 

efforts in 1891 and 1892 were, by the end of the century, things of 
the past. The greatly reduced number of immigrants and sufficient 
notice of their arrival made adequate preparation possible. The 

1900 Report notes proudly that the members of a group of 50 
families that came to Moisesville in that year were installed in 
their assigned homes and at work in the fields within twenty- 
four hours of arrival. These new families, as well as the older 
ones, now lived in small but substantial two-room brick houses 
(with the kitchen outside) and each had a stable for work animals 
and milk cows. The settlers were beginning to be able to buy 
farm implements, especially reaping and threshing machines. The 
two oldest colonies, Mauricio and Moisesville, had taken charge 
of their own affairs to some extent, coping with health services, 
education and ritual slaughtering. 

In the older colonies the dwellings were clustered; in the newer 
ones they were scattered in small groups of two to twelve, next 
to the cultivated fields. In addition to the villages where the 



farmers lived, which were beginning to assume a settled look - 
some had by now groves of trees which had reached heights 
conspicuous on the flat pampas - little towns had begun to grow 
up, usually around the railway stations. Here were the communal 
buildings, stores, clinics, schools and a synagogue (sometimes the 
school buildings were used for religious services). Also large 
and prominent was the residence of the local JCA manager, or 
administrator, as he was called. Schools were, as we have noticed, 
an important concern of the settlers, who did not fail to manifest 
the characteristic Jewish interest in learning by providing each 
settlement with at least one school and sometimes more. The 
schools had begun to enlarge their curricula to include the Spanish 
language and Argentine history as well as Hebrew and Jewish 
ritual. By 1900 there were twenty schools in the colonies, attended 
by 1,200 pupils, 667 boys and 533 girls. 

By this time also Argentina had developed a very extensive net- 
work of railways radiating from Buenos Aires, and all theJCA's 
settlements included a station within their boundaries or were 
close to one. Some, like Mauricio, were served by several railway 
lines. The large warehouses or elevators that JCA built adjacent 
to the railways were prominent features on the flat landscapes 
which caught the eyes of contemporary travellers. Access to the 
railways and to the little towns in or near the settlements was 
provided by roads which the colonists built at their own expense. 

Another sign of the settlements' progress in the closing years 
of the nineteenth century was the founding of a new colony in 
1898, in Entre-Rios province. This was Lucienville, named after 
the Baron's deceased son. The land for it had been purchased in 
1894 and set aside for children of the settlers. JCA, which had 
been embarrassed in Lowenthal's time by the scarcity of its supply 
of land, obviously had no intention of being in that kind of 
situation again; in every year between 1896 and 1912 it bought 
land in quantity, sometimes adjoining its existing colonies, some- 
times, if a favourable opportunity offered, in an area quite distant 
from any of its previously acquired holdings. One such area was 
Zeballas, a tract of 9,236 hectares (about 23,000 acres, or 36 square 
miles) purchased in 1898 in the district of La Paz, northwest of 
Entre-Rios, in the extreme north of Argentina. Smce this land 
did not seem fit for colonization, JCA operated it as a cattle and 
sheep ranch; it was equipped with corrals and shelters for the 
animals, and even a 'hospital' for the sheep. In 1900 there were 
approximately 2,500 milkmg cows here, out of a total of 5,455 
animals including 1,150 sheep and 189 horses. By that year 
Zeballas was able to return a profit of some 9,000 pesos to the 
administration derived from the sale of cattle, a sum that 


permitted Buenos Aires 'to be reimbursed for the advances it had 
made that year and to cover its general expenses there'. 

But Zeballas, for all its 9,236 hectares, was a relatively small 
part of the acreage JCA purchased in the years just before and 
after 1900. By 1902 the Association owned 359,314 hectares, of 
which 109,500 were occupied by colonists, to whom ultimate sale 
was promised. Even this amount did not satisfy JCA's aims and 
ambitions. In 1904 a domain of 100,000 hectares named Leloir, 
partly in Buenos Aires province and partly in the adjoining terri- 
tory of La Pampa, was acquired. Here the administration planned 
to install 500-600 famiHes, which it did eventually in two colonies 
named respectively Baron Hirsch, founded in 1904, and Narcisse 
Leven, founded in 1908. By 1912 JCA owned a total of 586,473 
hectares. The bulk, 363,959 hectares, was occupied by settlers 
who had been promised title; 391 hectares had been sold to colon- 
ists; and the remaining 222,123 hectares was held in reserve for 
future colonization. The total remained unchanged throughout 
the First World War, until the late 1920s when JCA purchased 
some more land. 

In its search for sufficient land for settling anticipated immi- 
grants, JCA did not confine itself to purchases in Argentina. In 
1901 Mr Cazes, one of the co-heads of the Buenos Aires office, 
and Mr Lepine, on the administrative staff, went on an explora- 
tory expedition through Brazil's southernmost state, Rio Grande 
do Sul, and were favourably impressed. As a result, JCA bought 
a large acreage there and soon afterwards planted a colony on it, 
the story of which will be told in chapter 6. 

Further evidence of the growing maturity of the colonies was 
the willingness of the settlers to go beyond the original basic 
crops of cereal and flax. By 1900 cattle raising and fattening had 
become an important occupation, especially in Mauricio, close to 
large meat packing establishments. Here and elsewhere poultry 
raising, vegetable plots, milk production in sufficient amount to 
make necessary the building of creameries and even beekeeping 
were undertaken. 

The progress of the settlers, their satisfaction with their lot, 
and their intention to continue farming in Argentina were further 
evidenced by the fact that many of them paid the fares to bring 
their relatives from Russia and have them settle in the colonies. 

The Baron's dream and desire had been to estabhsh an in- 
dependent, self-sufficient, self-supporting and self-governing 
community of Jewish farmers in Argentina. We have cited a 
number of developments that took place in 1900 which indicated 
that at least a beginning had been made in giving concrete form 
to his vision. The Baron's conception of independence and self- 



sufficiency included the idea that 'his' farmers would be able to 
repay the costs of establishing them on the land (remember that 
he had written that he 'contended against the old idea of philan- 
thropy' - the mere giving of doles or alms). His feeling about 
repayment was embodied in the original contracts that JCA had 
offered the settlers in 1894, the form of which he had himself 
approved. His departed spirit must then have noted with satisfac- 
tion that in 1898 half the settlers in Moisesville, despite a mediocre 
crop and mediocre prices, made repayments to JCA. 

But the Baron's concept of these communities, or at least the 
JCA Council's interpretation of it, had been rather narrow. In 
1897 the residents of Moisesville sent a delegation to Paris to ask 
that the Council permit the establishment of clothing factories, 
to operate during the winter, the slack farming season, and to 
authorise the building of vocational schools to teach skills not 
related to farming, and for these or other schools to teach Spanish 
and arithmetic. The Council snubbed the petitioners, telling them 
that they and their children were to work the land and indulge 
in no distractions. In fact, as we have seen, the schools in the 
colonies did give courses in Spanish, which was a simple necessity 
for citizens of Argentina, and in arithmetic as well. Also, as time 
went on almost all the girls' schools gave courses in dressmaking. 

JCA's original concept of what was meant by 'agriculture' was 
so strict that it excluded cattle-raising from the canon. In a later 
JCA review of the situation in Argentina, it was noted with an 
air of some surprise that experience had shown that the colonists 
could not live on the proceeds of agriculture alone, and in order 
to make a living had to resort to cattle-raising on a large scale - 
thus indicating that in its view cattle-raising was not quite 
completely 'agricultural' 

Jewish peasants? 

The Baron, and the Council after him, entertained manifestly 
contradictory notions of what would constitute a successful 
outcome of the great settlement effort in Argentina. On the one 
hand, as the colonies made progress in population and income 
through the first decade of the twentieth century, the annual 
reports repeatedly and proudly pointed out that they gave proof 
that Jews could till the soil successfully once they were allowed 
to own land, and that the scoffings of anti-Semites who said Jews 
could never be farmers were obviously without foundation. But 
curiously, that great capitalist, the Baron de Hirsch, did not 
envisage the possibility that, if Jews proved to be good farmers 



who made virgin soil fruitful, the value of the land would thereby 
be increased, and some owners might be prompted to take 
advantage of that increase. His concept seemed to have been that 
the Jews in Argentina would become European-type peasants, 
with father leaving the ancestral homestead to the son, from 
generation to generation, and that the family would never 
contemplate moving from it. As for the Council, they apparently 
believed that in a world of private ownership, with open commu- 
nications, they could fence off an enclave and somehow insulate 
the Jewish farmers in Argentina from the commercial currents 
flowing all about, and through, the settlements. 

Therefore the contracts provided for penalties or cancellation if 
the colonist let his land or did not work it himself and, moreover, 
did not permit the contract-purchaser to pay the amount due in 
advance in order to take title and thus be enabled to sell the land 
he was cultivating before the expiration of the contract. Such an 
action was regarded as reprehensible speculation. Interestingly 
enough, this position of JCA was upheld by an Argentine court 
in 1910. The court took the view that, because a Jewish colonist 
had agreed to become part of a special homogeneous farm colony 
and had received many benefits from this membership, he could 
not opt out at any time he chose. JCA's enforcement of the time- 
scale of the contract was obviously at best a delaying action. 
The profit potential of the land, or the cultural and commercial 
attractions of urban hfe and its amenities, or both, were bound 
eventually to overcome JCA's attempt to maintain a 'peasant' 
class. And indeed, JCA recognised (1910 Report, p. 39) that there 
was a vast difference between a French peasant and the Russian 
Jewish colonist in Argentina. But this did not prevent a raising 
of eyebrows when it was reported that some of the settlers had 
purchased sulkies, a more comfortable and speedier form of trans- 
port than the usual heavy farm wagon, that some had gone so 
far as to install indoor WCs and that - in a few very rare cases - 
some famihes even possessed pianos. 

The lawsuit referred to had been brought by residents of Maur- 
icio. This colony was a centre of 'anti-contract' agitation, because 
it was well estabhshed and prosperous; land values there had risen 
very noticeably, and therefore discontent with the strict contract 
provisions was most keenly felt. This discontent was made mani- 
fest not only in the lawsuit but in the 'Jazanovich incident'. i 

Leon Jazanovich was a Jewish journahst who had come to 
Argentina in 1909 as a propagandist for the Poale-Zion (Labour 
Zionist) movement and perhaps also with the idea of establishing 
a periodical. He toured all the colonies and happened on Mauricio 
at a time of agitation by the settlers who were unable to obtain 



title from JCA. Jazanovich was deeply touched by the grievances 
of these colonists and set off on a whirlwind tour of all the 
settlements, stirring up anti-JCA sentiment. (According to Schal- 
Iman, this action coincided with, and perhaps was intensified by, 
the first manifestations of a trade union movement in the 
country. 2) Jazanovich's campaign came to an abrupt end early in 
1910, when he was expelled from the country. 

Jazanovich believed, although Schallman, a partisan of JCA, 
asserts there is no evidence, that he had been denounced to the 
Argentine authorities as a 'dangerous anarchist' and a 'revol- 
utionary' by agents of JCA. At any rate, on his return to Europe 
he published a book. The Crisis of Jewish Colonization in Argentina 
and the Moral Bankruptcy of the JCA Administration. He also went 
on a speaking tour through France, Germany, Poland, Lithuania 
and elsewhere. Schallman claims that Jazanovich, despite his 
publications and his oratory, did not arouse any special attention 
in the Jewish community at large. Schallman himself, however, 
was sufficiently aroused, 50 years later, to cite Jazanovich's three 
major complaints - and refute them. These were: (1) the failure 
of the villages and towns near the settlements to provide sufficient 
cultural and social activity, so that the colonists lived in an ambi- 
ence of isolation; (2) what Jazanovich labelled 'philanthropic feud- 
alism', by which he meant JCA's contract procedure; and (3) the 
inflated presumption of some JCA staff members. 

In addition to these major points, Jazanovich made some rather 
extravagant — and untrue — allegations that tend to weaken his 
credibility. In rebutting Jazanovich, Schallman asserts that the 
villages of colonies Moisesville, Mauricio and Clara did provide 
ample cultural opportunities. The sufficiency of such opportuni- 
ties is a matter of opinion, but whatever the older colonies 
provided, the newer ones like Baron Hirsch or Narcisse Leven 
offered none. On the other hand, persons who volunteered to 
undertake pioneering in the Argentine back-country could not 
really have expected to enjoy much in the way of cultural 

Schallman also pointed to the co-operatives as a means of social 
contact. As for the 'philanthropic feudalism', there is no question 
but that JCA exercised a considerable degree of control over the 
economic affairs of the colonists; but on the main bone of conten- 
tion in this area, the matter of the contracts, there was a clash of 
values. The colonists, or at least some of them, wanted to make 
what profits they could when they could: JCA tried to prevent 
this in the name of maintaining a viable Jewish farm population. 

One can sympathise with JCA's objectives, while recognising, 
as the outcome eventually proved, that they were impossible to 



attain in the circumstances. As for the colonists, they would have 
to have been superhumanly altruistic to refuse, without making 
at least an attempt to obtain them, the riches that seemed to be 
almost within their grasp. The Argentine court ruled that JCA 
was in the right in these circumstances, and if a court has so ruled 
perhaps we should accept its judgment. As for the third charge, 
that the JCA staff were presumptuous, this was undoubtedly true 
of at least some of them. 

While Schallman refuted Jazanovich's accusations and JCA won 
the lawsuit, JCA nevertheless liberalised the terms of its contracts 
in 1912. It now decreed that a colonist who had been installed 22 
years and had made 12 annual payments of the 22 due could attain 
ownership by paying in full the amount remaining due. The 
contracts were further liberalised in 1917 and again later. 

Further progress 

The eagerness of the settlers to obtain full possession of their 
land was evidence of their success. The general advance of the 
Argentine economy was also an important factor in the rise of 
land values. JCA itself, as we have seen, was far from reluctant 
to point out that by the first years of the twentieth century the 
settlers had achieved a solid economic and social base. In addition 
to these assertions and the evidence of prosperity provided by 
the sulkies, WCs and pianos, there are numerous attestations 
by witnesses to the progress of the colonies. Various Argentine 
officials, provincial or federal, spoke of the well-being of the JCA 
colonies; and as for Jewish farm workers, an Argentine observer 
remarked that they were better than those of other ethnic origins 
because they were not given to drink. 

A government commission set up to formulate large land settle- 
ment schemes consulted the JCA administration on how to go 
about it. But while the Argentine witnesses may have been 
influenced by the wish to win the favour of a large new constituent 
group, the same cannot be said of a visitor who travelled through 
the colonies in 1904. This was one Krukoff, on the staff of the 
Russian Ministry of Agriculture, who had been sent by his 
government to study farming practices in the United States, 
Austraha and Argentina. Krukoff was favourably impressed by 
what he saw, by the transformation of merchants and artisans 
into successful farmers (he had never seen a Jewish farmer in 
Russia). He mentioned several individuals who had large farms 
with many animals and ample equipment and who had left Russia 



Another point that struck Krukoff was the rapidity of assimil- 
ation of the Jewish settlers. He said: 

The Jews when they land at Buenos Aires surprise the natives 
because of their miserable aspect. Their coats are long, dirty 
and torn. Their hats are bizarre. They have 'payis' on their 
temples. Their faces are haggard and lugubrious. But in 
Argentina they are quickly transformed. Their dress becomes 
similar to that of the other Argentines, and one sees with 
satisfaction that they have an open physiognomy and a bold 
look. The younger generation especially, which has gone 
through school and speaks Spanish, is quite indistinguishable 
from the 'true' Argentinians, [translated from the French, 
JCA Report for 1904] 

Krukoff also recorded that, although the colonists had been 
desperately poor in Russia and without any prospect of bettering 
their lot, they nevertheless felt that Russia was their homeland - 
after all, they had been born there. And despite the fact that they 
had the 'manners and customs' of the Argentines, some at least 
felt that they were still strangers in the country. 

Money talks. When the Argentine settlers had reached the stage 
where they had begun making repayments on their debts to JCA, 
that was an eloquent indication that they had passed beyond the 
subsistence stage; they were beginning to earn a good deal more 
than their bare keep. Indeed, as we have seen, many were able to 
pay for their relatives' passage to the colonies, and many were 
able to contribute to their poor relations back in Russia. In 1905, 
for example, 126,084 francs were transmitted to Russia as gifts 
through JCA, which set up an office to handle transfers of money 
in Europe. More may have been sent direct. 


The number of colonists and other settlers grew, especially after 
1905. If we remember that the colonists' families tended to 
average six persons, the addition of 850 colonists, as took place 
between 1905 and 1910, meant an accretion of 5,000 or more 
people. Also, as the number of farmers increased, so did the 
number of merchants and service personnel living in the colonies. 
Table 5.1, drawn from the relevant Annual Reports, gives a 
picture of the growth of the colonies between 1900 and 1913. 

Jewish emigration from Russia was spurred by the Kishinev 
pogrom of 1903.3 Disturbances associated with the disastrous 
Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5 were an added stimulus, as Russian 



Table 5.1 Growth 

of the 










Jewish population in 







Number of colonists 







Area sown (hectares) 







Number of cattle 







policy was left with one object, as was bitterly remarked: 'to kill 
Jews'. Besides these violent expressions of the czarist 
government's "policy", another incentive to Jewish emigration 
was the generally poor economic situation of Russia's Jews, and 
in particular of the Jewish farmers in the Ukrainian provinces of 
Kherson and Ekaterinoslav, as well as Bessarabia, who could 
scarcely eke out a living on tiny land holdings they could not 

This situation made these areas fertile recruiting grounds for 
JCA. Other famihes came to Argentina on their own, or with 
tickets paid for by relatives already there. By this time, because 
of the well established JCA settlements, Argentina had become a 
recognised destination for Jews departing from Russia. In 1904 
the immigration was about 4,500, of whom 508 went direct to 
the colonies (these included couples with children, men who had 
temporarily left their families behind, and bachelors); in 1905 it 
had increased to 7,516. In the following six years it continued at 
approximately the same level, and then in 1912 it almost doubled, 
to 13,416, but in 1913 it fell back to the previous average of 7,000- 
plus - not large numbers compared with the more than 100,000 
going annually to the United States, but still substantial. As in 
1904, so in each of the subsequent years, some 10 per cent or more 
of the thousands who came to Argentina went to the settlements. 

JCA estimated that in 1910 there were 43,000 Jews in the 
country in addition to the 21,115 in the colonies, 64,000 in all. 
JCA had a high regard for those it called 'spontaneous' colonists, 
who came across the Atlantic at their own expense and risk to 
farm in Argentina. It also favoured individuals who had spent 
two or three years as farm labourers, selecting those it considered 
most able and installing them on its lands. As we have seen, it 
continued to do some recruiting in Russia, but not on the scale 
of the 1890s, and it chose as candidates for settlement only those 
who really had some farming experience. Many of these new- 
comers were able to contribute something towards the settlement 
costs. Helping to swell the immigration statistics were the rela- 
tives of previously established settlers. 

Another group that added to the Jewish farm population were 



the sons and sons-in-law of the settlers, who were generally 
installed in the same colonies as their parents. By 1905, fifteen 
years after the initial Argentine settlement, there was a sufficient 
number of children to constitute an appreciable proportion of the 
new colonists installed that year and subsequently. 

Social organisations 

There is an old saying that if three Jews are stranded on a desert 
island they will build four synagogues, a tribute to their tendency 
to establish and join a multitude of organisations. The settlers in 
Argentina conformed to this image. Once they felt they were on 
a solid footing in their new home, they started to set up various 
types of social, religious and economic institutions which 
strengthened the fabric of their society and contributed to its 
growing prosperity. Thus, for example, in 1904 JCA reported 
that in Mauricio there were three philanthropic societies of which 
two were to help poor widows and orphans and the third to 
relieve the sick; in Lucienville there was a co-operative society, 
occupied with the general interests of its members; in Clara a loan 
society had just been created, as well as an insurance association 
to pay crop losses caused by fire and another to cover medical 
expenses. In Mauricio and Moisesville the medical care was under 
the settlers' direction and they also paid the costs. JCA intervened 
only to cover the fees for new settlers. In Clara JCA still bore the 
greater part of the medical expenses but the administration of the 
health programme was in the hands of the colonists. The doctors 
were usually of Russian origin, and following Russian custom 
the medical personnel included feldshers (something like barber- 
surgeons), who could render first aid or diagnose and treat minor 

JCA encouraged these co-operative efforts by the settlers, 
hoping thereby to create a spirit of sohdarity and concern with 
the common good. With the same intent, in 1904 JCA added to 
its Argentine staff Rabbi Halphon, a young man of Russian birth 
who had been trained in the rabbinical seminary in Paris. Halphon 
was to act as rabbi-in-general for the colonists, who it will be 
remembered had built synagogues (or used other buildings for 
services) in each settlement and had also built mikvahs (ritual 
baths) in most. Part of Halphon's time was to be spent in organi- 
sing rehgious services, addressing the colonists in the sacred 
tongue, Hebrew, and giving them consolation at times of bereave- 
ment. His other task was to be inspector of the colonies' schools, 



to oversee religious instruction and to encourage the parents to 
have their children attend school regularly. 

In the same way as the colonists set up synagogues in each 
settlement, they also built schools; but the schools lacked direc- 
tion. This it was Halphon's duty to provide. A meeting of 
teachers, held in Buenos Aires in 1905 with Halphon presiding, 
laid out a programme of studies to be put into effect throughout 
the school system in the colonies, which by then comprised 26 
schools with 1,817 pupils. Because of the great distances involved 
(from Mauricio, the southernmost colony, to Moisesville, the 
northernmost, was 600 kilometres), no single person, even one 
as energetic as Halphon, could supervise all the schools. Therefore 
a senior principal in each of the four chief villages was assigned 
the task of inspecting the schools in his own area, as well as 
continuing in charge of his own. This was especially necessary to 
ensure that the agreed reforms were carried out. By 1910, in step 
with the increase in population, there were 50 schools in eight 
colonies, with 3,538 pupils. 

In addition to being energetic, Halphon was evidently also a 
man of address and learning, for after some years in JCA's service 
he was offered and accepted the rabbinate of the chief congre- 
gation in Buenos Aires. 

At about this same time, in 1909, JCA received reports that, 
while the material situation of the Jews living outside its colonies 
was satisfactory, the same could not be said for this population's 
religious instruction. JCA felt it incumbent on itself to fill this 
gap. In April 1911 rehgious courses were begun and by 1,913 
there were 23 such courses, 5 in the provinces, the rest in Buenos 
Aires and the surrounding area. Attendance had risen to 1,392, 
and about 2,700 pupils had taken these courses during the three 
years they had been offered. Hebrew language primers, compila- 
tions of prayers with Spanish translation and Bible anthologies 
were also distributed. 

Reasonably enough, because of the distances involved, many 
of the pupils in the colonies went to and from school on horse- 
back, which certainly for Jews in general was a fairly unusual 
means of transport. That young Jews should ride horses was not 
only a necessity, but part of the process of absorbing Argentine 
mores, which Krukoff had noted. In fact, this process had gone so 
far that the most prominent of Argentine Jewish writers, Alberto 
Gerchunoff, called his sketches of Jewish hfe in the settlements, 
pubhshed in 1912, Los Gauchos Judios (The Jewish Gauchos). 

Discussion of communal activity in the JCA colonies would be 
incomplete if it did not include an account of the co-operative 
movement, which began with the founding of the Sociedad Agri- 



cola of Lucienville in 1900, almost as soon as that colony itself 
had been set up. A pamphlet (75 Atios de Colonizacion Judia en la 
Argentina - no author, no date, but presumably published in 
Buenos Aires in 1966 or 1967) says of this organisation (translated) 
'It is considered the true dean of the farm co-operatives in Argen- 
tina', being of the multi-purpose type, of which it was the first 
example, and a form that was adopted by the majority of agricul- 
tural co-operatives established subsequently. The second co-oper- 
ative, 'Fondo Comunal', was set up in Dominguez, part of the 
Clara complex, in 1904 and was of the same character. To 
continue with the account in 75 Afios de Colonizacion: 'The great 
majority of those established later adopted the same criteria, 
setting forth as basic objectives: the purchase for its associates of 
the materials needed for consumption and work, the sale of their 
products and obtaining credit for the development of productive 
facilities.' The full flowering of the co-operative movement in the 
colonies took place in the 1920s and 1930s, but the foundation 
was laid by these two co-operatives plus four more that were 
started before 1910. By that year there was a co-operative in every 
colony. These associations were not entirely the creations of the 
colonists, but owed a good deal to the active intervention of JCA. 
Dr Sonnenfeld, the Director of the Association in Paris, wrote a 
report stressing the need for such institutions. Not only did JCA 
provide them with finance, but JCA staff took a large part in 
creating and setting them up and also served on their governing 

JCA's interest in the movement was not only to build up a 
spirit of solidarity among the colonists; the co-operatives could 
relieve the Association of certain administrative functions and lead 
the colonists to assume a greater share in the management of their 
affairs. A first step was to use the co-operatives as agents of JCA 
in making short-term loans. The JCA office in Buenos Aires, 
which previously had passed all applications for such loans, could 
now save itself the detailed work involved by advancing a lump 
sum to a co-operative, which would scrutinise the applications 
and itself take care of the credit needs of its settlement. 

The co-operatives also took over the financing and control 
of the colonies' medical services. One hospital had been long 
established at Dominguez, and another was built at Lucienville. 
JCA made a loan towards it but reported proudly that it was a 
small loan, accounting for only one-fifth of the expense, the major 
part coming from the colonists or their organisations. 

The co-operatives' assumption of medical costs was only a 
beginning. The colonists had almost from the start paid the 
expenses of putting in local roads and maintaining them. Now 



the co-operatives did this. Under the same heading of municipal 
service came their contributions to the cost of pohcing the 

One gets the impression that the settlers were a rather quarrel- 
some lot, for JCA reported with considerable satisfaction that the 
co-operatives, by establishing panels to mediate differences about 
property boundaries, saved the JCA administrators a great deal 
of time previously consumed in dealing with trivial disputes. 

The purpose of the co-operatives, it will be remembered, was 
to provide moral as well as material benefits, and they did carry 
out this part of JCA's intention. They helped, for example, to 
maintain libraries, some of which had originally been subsidised 
by JCA; they built auditoriums and arranged lecture series. Two 
co-operatives joined to publish a bi-weekly paper of news and 
agricultural information, the Juedischer Colonist. They helped 
immigrants find jobs and organised charitable works for the 
indigent. In these many ways they performed much more than 
the strictly economic functions that are generally regarded as the 
proper duties of a buying and selling co-operative, and helped 
the colonists achieve what JCA so often said was its aim, self- 


Scattered through JCA's annual reports for the first decade of the 
twentieth century are a number of self-congratulatory remarks to 
the effect that the colonists had proved themselves as farmers in 
Argentina - how well developed and prosperous the colonies had 
become; how ardently the transplanted Jews loved cultivating the 
soil; how attached they were to the pastoral way of life; etc. The 
sentiments that had given rise to these statements seem to have 
been especially strong in 1911-12, when they found concentrated 
and outspoken expression in the presidential address to the Annual 
General Meeting of 7 July 1912, which reviewed the events of 
1911. The address was dehvered by the Vice-President, Franz 
Philippson, as the President, Narcisse Leven, was ill. In the course 
of his allocution Philippson proclaimed (translated from the 
French) : 

In Argentina truly we have reaHsed the dream of our founder 
in bringing to work on the soil thousands of Jewish famihes 
who left the ghettos of Poland and Russia. All these people 
have become true agriculturists, a httle more refined by the 
suffering they have endured than European peasants, but like 



these last suffused with a love of the soil. . . I am proud 
to be able to say that they remain faithful to their race and 
their religion. . At Basavilbaso [the railroad town serving 
the southern part of the Clara settlements] it is market- 
day. . . all along the main street the farmers come and go, 
talking about their business affairs, looking at the baskets 
where the smaller cultivators display for sale the products of 
their gardens. Is one in a Jewish colony or a French 
village?. . . The travellers go down the main road which 
passes between the neat and bright cottages of the country- 
folk. In the fields to the right and left, the workers are at 
their tasks. It is evening and the school is empty, the children 
are returning to the farms. One sees them passing in light 
carriages or mounted two or three on their big horses which 
they guide like accomplished equestrians. One cannot 
prevent a surge of emotion contemplating this engaging 
picture. Our founder, who undertook to bring the Jews to 
work on the soil, would have been fully recompensed if he 
had lived long enough to have seen the realisation of his 
dream. Is it necessary, after this, to enumerate the riches which 
our colonies now possess? 

And then, after the habit of speakers who say it is unnecessary 
to enumerate and then proceed to do so, Philippson enumerated. 
He listed the 569,000 hectares owned by JCA, the 205,000 hectares 
under cultivation, the more than 23,000 cows and 53,000 horses, 
the wagons, the reapers, the innumerable other machines owned 
by the colonists. Earlier in his speech he had mentioned the fact 
that there were over 2,000 families of colonists in the nine colonies 
- Mauricio, Moisesville, Clara, Lucienville, San Antonio, Santa 
Isabel, Baron Hirsch, Narcisse Leven and Dora - comprising 
15,501 persons. In addition, there were 800 families of farm 
workers and artisans, making the total Jewish population 20,038. 
From every point of view, the contrast with twenty years before, 
when the first settlers, unfed, unhoused and unequipped, had 
struggled into Moisesville and Mauricio, was a high noon to dark 

Phihppson's pride in the accomplishments of JCA and the 
settlers had considerable justification; for, as some of the reports 
noted, in undertaking its Argentine enterprise JCA was setting 
forth on a absolutely untrodden path, with no experience of its 
own or others to guide it. Now a point had been reached where 
sufficient numbers of Russian Jews were well established on the 
land for it to be proclaimed that the Baron's hopes had been 
fulfilled, except in one respect. The millions, or at least tens of 



thousands, that he had hoped to pull out of Russia were still 
there. In fact, a good deal of the success ofJCA's colonies was 
due to the strict limitations it had put on additional settlement 
after the initial phase, attempting the estabhshment of small 
groups only, rather than masses of people, and accepting only 
candidates who had agricultural experience and some resources 
of their own/ 

In 1912 and 1913, 14 colonists in Mauricio received the title 
deeds to their farms. They were among the first to obtain 
ownership of the lands they had worked. A remarkable aspect of 
the process of handing over ownership to the colonists was the 
very name that JCA applied to it, at its beginning in 1912 and 
ever afterwards. The 1912 report, after remarking that the first 
property titles had been transferred in Mauricio, goes on to say 
that there would be seen in a few years a Jewish colony entirely 
emancipated {emancipe in the French), and when in later years 
statistics on the number of colonists obtaining title are presented, 
the heading is 'Number emancipated'. Now 'emancipated' is a 
word generally used in a quite precise way, meaning 'freed from 
bondage'. That JCA itself used this word gives rise to speculation 
concerning its conception of its role in Argentina and lends some 
credence to the oft-expressed criticism that it was, especially in 
the early days, excessively paternalistic and even dictatorial in 
dealing with the colonists. As the old symbolic myth about JCA 
had it, if a cow in one of the settlements fell down a well, 
authorisation had to be obtained from Paris before the farmers 
could do anything about pulling up the unfortunate animal. 


Despite JCA's large land purchases in earher years, prompted by 
visions of increasing colonization, the Association continued to 
acquire parcels of land. Thus in 1910 it purchased 3,000 hectares 
at a place called Dora, in the province of Santiago del Estero, 
about 300 kilometres north of Moisesville and 850 kilometres 
from Buenos Aires. This area was purchased only after careful 
inspection and approval by JCA agronomists and an irrigation 
expert, whose opinion was solicited because it was clear that the 
land needed watering to be productive. By this time JCA felt that 
to provide 150 hectares per colonist, as it had sometimes done in 
the past, was too costly and would soon encroach on the acreage 
it had in reserve. For this reason, and also because intensive 
cultivation would be practised, 30 hectares were assigned to each 
of the 83 settling families, carefully selected as hard and tenacious 



workers, who came from the older colonies to Dora in 1911 and 

Dora, despite all the careful inspections that had preceded its 
purchase, was in difficulties from the start. Water was available 
from a tributary of the Parana River, but there were insufficient 
dikes to retain it in the area to be planted and allow it to soak in, 
so only a small part could be irrigated effectively. By 1912 it was 
clear that disaster impended. The fields were saline, and infertile; 
in the whole area the settlers were able to dig only four or five 
wells that gave potable water. The alfalfa crop was entirely lost. 
Yet the colonists hung on. JCA decided to regard Dora as an 
experimental farm and tried various methods of improving the 
saline soil. The cultivation of vegetables and fruits was also 
attempted. But by 1916 exceptional drought and lack of water 
had nullified these efforts. The situation was aggravated in 
February 1917 by a fearful invasion of locusts which ate what was 
left of the crop. Some of the colonists left, finding work in 
nearby forests. Even drinking water failed, and in June 1917 the 
remaining colonists telegraphed Buenos Aires, calling attention 
to the imminent bankruptcy of the colony and asking that their 
lands be exchanged for others that would be productive. Receiv- 
ing no answer, a few days later the enraged colonists rushed the 
Administrator's quarters and forced him to send another telegram 
to Buenos Aires asking for the intervention of the Directorate. 
The Administrator did not suffer this invasion lightly and called 
the police, who maltreated and arrested some of the protestors. 
Peace was restored by the intervention of the Argentine Socialist 
Party, which sent as its representative Dr Dickman, a deputy in 
the National Assembly, from Clara Colony. Dickman's visit led 
to the creation of an investigating commission, whose conclusions 
bore out the complaints of the colonists concerning the lack of 
water and infertility of the soil. By 1919 only 33 of the original 
83 families remained. JCA, with its customary obduracy, 
continued to work with the remaining settlers. It reduced the 
price of the lots and gave generous terms for the repayment of 
the colonists' debts. These measures served to keep the place alive, 
but only just. In 1941, the thirtieth anniversary of Dora's founding 
was celebrated by the 20 or 25 families who were still there. ^ 

In its quest for more land, as the Dora experience indicates, 
JCA was perhaps not as cautious in making acquisitions as it 
should have been. Half the colony of Baron Hirsch was underlain 
by a chalky formation very close to the surface, ^ which made 
cultivation difficult; and another new colony, Montefiore, where 
the land had also been carefully examined before it was purchased 
in 1912, turned out to be afflicted by ravenous mosquitos and 



subject to flooding by tempestuous rains. Montefiore was located 
in Santa Fe province, a short distance north of Moisesville and 
670 kilometres from Buenos Aires. In 1912 it was settled by 208 
families, mostly drawn from the older colonies. Each received 75 
hectares of land. Even in their very first year the settlers suffered 
from a plague of mosquitos, but worse was to come. In 1913 
there was a drought and plagues of locusts, and in 1914, over- 
whelming rains. The colonists, moreover, were unable to deliver 
what crops they had harvested because their draught animals were 
so troubled by mosquitos. JCA had to grant a special credit 
because of the settlers' lack of income. In the next year, 1915, the 
rains were even worse. It is not surprising that by 1919 only 140 
colonists remained. It is interesting that many of the farmers 
who left Montefiore formed an independent Jewish colony in the 
Chaco area, where they raised cotton. As for Montefiore, while 
it continued to exist, it did not grow. In 1941 there were 105 
colonists there, chiefly producing alfalfa, raising cattle and selling 
milk. 7 

Somewhere in between 

Franz Philippson, when he spoke with such pride of JCA's 
achievements in Argentina in his 1912 address, had been prescient. 
Generally speaking, the position of the colonists improved 
through the first decade of the twentieth century, and reached a 
peak in 1911-12. The most informative index of the colonists' 
prosperity was the extent of the repayments they made to JCA. 
While the amounts due were fixed by contract, the colonists knew 
that if they failed to pay in any one year for good reason, or even 
a shadow of one, they would not be penalised. Therefore the 
amount returned to JCA was a fair measure of their ability to 
pay. Anyhow, 1911 was a banner year for repayments, as Table 
5.2, compiled from the relevant Annual Reports, shows. 

The 1911-12 harvest was also the most abundant crop up to 
that time for the Jewish farmers. They produced 852,164 quintals 
(a quintal in Argentina is 101.3 lb) of cereals and flax, compared 
with 501,398 in the previous year and 635,895 in the following 
year when there was an invasion of locusts in the northern 
colonies and not only locusts but a drought as well in the south. 
Nor did the Jewish settlers suffer alone. The conditions of Argen- 
tine agriculturists in general at that time were so difficult that the 
government found it necessary to come to the aid of farmers in 
the southwest territory of La Pampa, where the JCA colonies 



Table 5.2 Debt repayments to JCA 
Year Pesos 



















Baron Hirsch and Narcisse Leven were located. The government 
distributed money for the purchase of seed, in which aid the 
Jewish farmers shared. 

In its account of the colonists' troubles in 1913, JCA noted that 
in part these were due to their failure to follow JCA's advice, 
which was that they should turn from a reliance on cereals and 
flax and diversify by cultivating more vegetables and fruit and 
raising more poultry. But even in the midst of its rather querulous 
observations about the colonists' deafness to its well intentioned 
admonitions, JCA's 1913 report (p. 9) remarked on the basically 
improving situation of the Jewish farming centres in Argentina: 

Their prosperity manifests itself from the first in the growth 
of the population and by the increase and improvement of 
the inventory [of animals and tools]. It appears even more 
interesting to us that the immigrants and the colonists 
continue to buy lands from us in the villages that are close by 
the settlements, where they construct dwellings or 
commercial buildings, creating centres of attraction where 
small industry can develop spontaneously. 

The report goes on to mention as examples of this kind of growth 
the villages at the railway stations near or within Lucienville, 
Dominguez (close to Clara), Clara itself, San Antonio, Moisesville 
and Mauri cio. 

It may be remarked parenthetically that JCA in the first years 
of the twentieth century had been criticised by Argentine political 
figures and periodicals for being reluctant to sell lots in these 
villages. It had adopted this policy originally for fear of diluting 
the agricultural character of the colonies. Under the pressure of 
this criticism JCA changed its attitude, and by 1907 and 1908 
began to sell lots in the villages to tradesmen such as tailors, 
cobblers and purveyors of food. This led to the considerable 
expansion of these places to which, by 1913, JCA was pointing 
with pride. 


Thus, despite the poorness of the 1912-13 harvests as compared 
with the year before, and despite the difficulties or even failures 
encountered in the new colonies, Dora and Montefiore, on the 
eve of the First World War, JCA surveyed its works in Argentina 
and found them good. Or even too good - in 1911 Louis Oungre, 
in his survey of the Argentine settlements, remarked that the 
colonists possessed an over-abundance of machinery. He 
complained that they behaved like estancieros rather than paysansl 

For the sake of consistency we shall close this chapter in our 
account of JCA's enterprise in Argentina at this point, though the 
change in its programme in that country, untouched by the war, 
was minimal as compared with what happened in Europe or even 
in Palestine. One major effect of the war, however, was the 
complete cessation of immigration from Eastern Europe, which 
had been the source of the settlers in the colonies and the fountain- 
head of their growth. 



JCA Elsewhere 

We have described the activities of JCA in Argentina, Palestine 
and Russia up to the outbreak of the First World War. While 
the Association's major efforts were devoted to these countries, 
however, its activities were by no means confined to them. Its 
interests were global. It undertook colonization enterprises of 
varying magnitude in Brazil, where hundreds of individuals were 
involved; in Canada, where a few thousand were helped to settle; 
and in Cyprus, where the Jewish settlers were numbered in tens. 
In Romania, though on a much smaller scale, its activities resem- 
bled those in Russia, comprising assistance, especially for educa- 
tional programmes, to the Jews who were unfortunate enough to 
live in that country. It also started a network of loan kassas in 
Galicia, then part of Austria. Its reach extended even to the United 
States, where it did not carry out a programme of its own but 
assisted its smaller and poorer cousin, the Baron de Hirsch Fund, 
with advice and substantial subventions. And beyond all this, 
JCA made contributions to a number of other charitable organisa- 
tions in whose work it had an interest, particularly the Alliance 
Israelite Universelle, which had been a favourite beneficiary of 
the Baron de Hirsch himself 


In Chapter 5 we noted that Cazes and Lepine had gone on an 
exploring expedition to Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost 
province in Brazil, and had found land which they considered 
suitable for Jewish settlement. In consequence in 1902, after 
having a careful survey made by an agronomist from Paris, JCA 
purchased an estate of 4,472 hectares, later enlarged to 5,500. JCA 
named the place Philippson, after its vice-president, and in 1904 
settled 37 families (267 persons) on twenty-five hectares each, 
having built small houses for them and provided livestock and 
tools. The land was part forest and part pasture, but JCA forbade 



the settlers to clear the forest, perhaps because this was regarded 
as a non-agricultural activity. 

Alas, the same fate befell the settlers here as had befallen the 
colonists of Montefiore and Dora. In spite of the careful inspec- 
tion, the Philippson land was 

uneven and stones can be found at a slight depth below the 
surface; there is only a light layer of humus. . . . Manure 
was not used at that time, and as the soil, without humus, is 
stony, and as there was a drought during the first two years, 
the results were disastrous, in spite of the settlers' great efforts. 

These are the words of Isidore Eisenberg, JCA's administrator in 
Brazil after 1934.' To compound their difficulties, Eisenberg 
notes, the first settlers had no 'knowledge of the soil of Rio 
Grande do Sul, or any idea of its conditions or the method 
required to work it'. 

It is rather disheartening to see repeated in Philippson, after 
more than a decade of experience in Argentina, some of the 
blunders and miscalculations that had plagued JCA's efforts in 
that country - the settling of people who had no notion of how 
to farm under South American conditions, and in a location that, 
despite 'careful investigation' by an agronomist, proved to have 
infertile soil, was difficult to cultivate, and was subject to drought 
and other drawbacks. Why JCA's inspectors made such unfortu- 
nate choices of land here and in Argentina is not a question on 
which the Association's records cast any light. And in Brazil in 
1902, JCA did not have the excuse it had in Argentina in 1891 - 
that refugees were already on the ships en route and had to be 
settled quickly. 

Not surprisingly after the almost complete nullity of reward 
for their efforts in their first years, the settlers wanted to leave 
Philippson. JCA kept them there by paying subsidies. Then in 
1908 the administration of the colony was reorganised. More land 
was given to each colonist, and they were allowed to clear the 
forest and rear cattle. Also, they were given more cows, and a 
butter factory was established to which they could sell their milk. 
The added income from this source plus the returns from the sale 
of the timber produced in clearing their lots provided enough 
revenue to enable JCA to end the subsidies. In addition to 
producing beef, milk and timber, the colonists grew maize, pota- 
toes, peanuts, cassava, oranges and vegetables. By 1910 JCA felt 
sufficiently heartened by the turn-around at Philippson to settle 
40 more families there, some of them children of the original 
settlers, some of them from Europe. More importantly, it bought 



a huge property of 93,000 hectares (360 square miles) in the 
northern part of Rio Grande do Sul, called Quatro-Irmaos. 

But JCA's hopes for Philippson were not fulfilled. To be a 
successful farmer there required, in the words of Isidore Eisen- 
berg, 'working methods [that] were very different from and much 
harder than those the colonists had known in Europe'. This was 
due to the necessity of clearing the forest, which before the day 
of the chain saw was very arduous labour. Also, the colonists 
could make more money in the towns with easier work. Third, 
land values rose, so that the Philippson settlers, having paid their 
debts to JCA and received title, and thus in JCA's phraseology 
having become emancipated, were able to sell their lands at a 
profit, leave the colony and find more lucrative employment 
elsewhere. By 1926 JCA had closed its office at Philippson. A 
large part of the area sold by the settlers came into the hands of 
two Jewish farmers who at that time were working their holdings 
successfully. The rest of the land that had belonged to the colony 
came to be farmed by non-Jews. 

The immense tract of 360 square miles called Quatro-Irmaos, 
most of it covered by timber, was first colonized in 1912, one 
year after its purchase, by more than forty families. Most were 
recruited among farm workers in the agricultural settlements in 
Argentina, but there were also some who had recently arrived 
from Russia. 2 

Apparently rumours about a great new settlement scheme in 
Brazil had been rife both in Europe and in Argentina. This was 
partly because JCA's enterprise at Quatro-Irmaos was confused 
with a Brazilian government settlement project on adjoining land. 
Anyway, many more immigrants came than JCA was prepared 
to handle. To quote Eisenberg again, 'Moreover, neither had the 
plans nor the preparations for the colonists recruited by JCA been 
studied or executed with sufficient care, and the number was 
excessive.' Not only were there too many settlers, but those 
whom JCA had brought there did not know how to farm in 
southern Brazil, especially in a heavily wooded area. Since the 
settlers were unable to earn their hving, JCA again had to resort 
to subsidies. By 1913 there were at Quatro-Irmaos 150 colonists, 
who with their families numbered 837 people. In an effort to 
provide them with the means to support themselves, JCA had 
begun the construction of a railroad spur 19 kilometres long which 
connected with the main line from Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo, 
Uruguay. This would not only provide easy access to the colony 
but would also make the shipment of its produce, especially 
timber, economical. Before any effect could be felt, however, the 
First World War broke out. Paris found it impossible to send 



money to Brazil; so the subsidies could no longer be paid. The 
situation at Quatro-Irmaos became so difficult that JCA had to 
transfer a number of families to Argentina, leaving only 516 
persons in the colony. 

After the end of the war the colonists began to earn money and 
the population started to grow again. In 1919 there were 716 
inhabitants, but only half of them were Jews. Prosperity, such as 
it was, did not endure for long. In 1923 a revolution broke out 
in Rio Grande do Sul and the insurgents occupied Quatro-Irmaos. 
They were driven out by federal troops, but in the next year there 
were more political disturbances and the colony was invaded by 
thieves and outlaws, who called themselves revolutionaries so as 
to have an excuse to pillage. In these circumstances it was impos- 
sible to farm, and again there was a considerable exodus. To build 
up the population for self-defence, JCA sold some hundreds of 
plots to German and Italian settlers whose relations with the Jews, 
Eisenberg tells us, were harmonious. After the incursions and 
invasions ceased, JCA again started to bring in new Jewish 
settlers. It settled eighty families from Poland and Lithuania in 
1926, and in the years following they and the older colonists 
worked hard, with favourable results. But not for long. In 1930 
there was yet another revolution; and the violent decline in prices 
incident to the Great Depression began in 1931 and continued for 
years. Again many colonists left, and those who remained had to 
be subsidised all over again. 

Unfortunately, in 1930 the Brazilian government, to protect 
the domestic labour market during the Depression, in effect closed 
the country's doors to further immigration. Thus, while condi- 
tions at Quatro-Irmaos improved, particularly after 1934 when 
Eisenberg, a qualified agronomist, was appointed administrator, 
the Jewish population continued to decline as there were no more 
immigrants coming into the country to replenish it. In view of 
this, JCA turned to a different style of colonization at a place 
called Rezende in the province of Rio de Janeiro. 

The difficulties experienced in Philippson and Quatro-Irmaos 
had been due in large part to their remoteness, as both were 
distant from any considerable urban centre. Therefore, when JCA 
made its third purchase in Brazil - Rezende - in 1936, it chose a 
site on a railway line, only 190 kilometres from Rio and even 
nearer other large cities, such as Sao Paulo, where produce could 
be sold. As new immigrants from Germany could not be brought 
into the country as JCA had hoped, 15 families already in Brazil 
were settled on plots of 20 hectares each. 

In both Philippson and Quatro-Irmaos JCA built schools and 
synagogues, but its major contribution to Jewish culture in Brazil 



was made in the cities and towns. As the Association became 
conscious of the lack of organised Jewish life and even of religious 
congregations in Rio, Sao Paulo and other cities, it felt it necessary 
to remedy this situation. Therefore in 1923 it commissioned a 
survey of the Jewish communities in Brazil by a European rabbi, 
1. Raffalovich, who was instructed not only to inspect but also 
to awaken and institutionalise Jewish sentiment in these 
communities. By the end of 1924 five schools had been established 
in as many cities with help from JCA, and three or four others 
were in the process of formation. Hebrew and biblical lore were 
taught in addition to basic education in Portuguese. JCA had to 
work from the ground up because textbooks of Jewish history in 
Portuguese did not exist and had to be written. Also, teachers 
who had the requisite language skills were hard to fmd. By 1925 
there were 12 schools with which JCA was involved and Rabbi 
Raffalovich had inspired the communities in Rio and Sao Paulo 
to plan the erection of synagogues and other communal buildings; 
he had also arranged for the translation of a book on Judaism into 
Portuguese. In 1926 the number of schools had reached 18, with 
820 pupils, and the JCA report for that year noted that the rabbi 
had been able to establish Jewish communal organisations in 
towns where none had existed before. Later JCA expressed pride 
in the fact that its office in Rio was the centre to which the Jewish 
organisations in Brazil turned for encouragement in their moral 
and cultural efforts. In the later 1920s this work continued to 
expand. By 1928 there were 19 schools with 1,064 pupils. The 
notion of organisation had become so acceptable to the Jewish 
community that in 1929 a levy for charitable purposes was 
imposed on its members without a murmur of opposition. By 
this time there were 30,000-40,000 Jews in the country. 

The next decade began auspiciously. The admission of 3,500 
Jewish immigrants was secured without difficulty in 1930, partly 
because of the strong presssure brought by the Jewish community 
that JCA had helped to build. The school system grew to cover 
1,600 pupils in twenty-five locations. By 1931, as the Depression 
deepened, the picture began to darken; only 1,940 Jews were 
admitted to the country (of whom more than half were helped 
by committees formed by JCA) and the school population 
remained more or less static. In 1934 JCA was subsidising 27 out 
of a total of 40 Jewish schools, but by 1939, on the eve of the 
Second World War, the number of schools subsidised had fallen 
to 21, as the local communities themselves were better able to 
bear the expense of education. Though Jewish immigration was 
almost shut off during the later 1930s, those who did manage 



to enter the country needed help, and JCA participated in the 
organisation of loan kassas for this purpose. 

So, albeit on a smaller scale, the effect of JCA's activity in 
Brazil was not unlike that in Argentina. The people brought in 
to be farmers, or their children, migrated to urban centres where 
they helped to build up organised Jewish life and, to the extent 
permitted by the government restrictions, paved the way for 
more Jewish immigrants. And the build-up of Jewish communal 
life owed much not only to the immigrants brought in by JCA 
but also to JCA's direct efforts to establish and strengthen that 
communal life. 


When Jewish emigration from Russia began in earnest in the 
1880s, the vast, empty lands of western Canada seemed to some 
a desirable destination. Canada enjoyed a democratic government 
and had a system favouring smallholders similar to that in the 
United States; the government was furthermore on record as 
being willing to encourage immigrants. The Mansion House 
Committee, which had been formed in London in 1881 to help 
Jews fleeing from Russian pogroms, and which did finance travel 
for some of them, declared its intention of sending 'agriculturists 
and able-bodied labourers' to the United States and Canada. A 
movement of Russian Jews to Canada began, but it was not of 
any great magnitude. In 1881 there were only 2,445 Jews in the 
country as a whole, and by 1891 the total was no more than 
6,501. Among these immigrants were small groups who tried to 
farm in western Canada. One such aggregation of twenty-seven 
families who received very small loans from the Mansion House 
Committee settled in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, in 1884. But the 
very severe climate, lack of transport and difficulty in cultivating 
the virgin soil were too much for them and the colony disinte- 
grated. Another colony was established in 1888-9 near Wapella, 
also in Saskatchewan; this one lasted long enough to be taken 
under the wing of JCA when the Association began operations in 
Canada. (One of the members of the Wapella colony was Ezekiel 
Bronfman, the progenitor of the famous Canadian Jewish family.) 
In a certain sense the JCA activity commenced in Canada before 
the Association itself came into legal existence in September 1891. 
As we have seen, early in May of that year the Baron de Hirsch 
sent a $20,000 cheque to the Young Men's Hebrew Benevolent 
Society (YMHBS) in Montreal. With this money YMHBS 
bought a building which it named the Baron de Hirsch Institute; 



the Society used it for administrative purposes and to house a 
school for immigrants. It also set up a committee to look into 
the possibility of creating farm settlements in western Canada for 
Jewish newcomers. 

These uses of the Baron's gift foreshadowed JCA's two major 
activities in Canada - helping immigrants settle in the country 
and, within that general framework, attempting to establish some 
of them on farm colonies. Shortly after JCA's incorporation, the 
Canadians sent a delegation to Paris who told the Baron that 
Moosomin was past saving but that a colony should be started 
near Oxbow, about 75 miles from Regina, the capital of Saskat- 
chewan, where a few Jewish farmers had arrived on their own. 
This suggestion was accepted. The Canadian government made 
a grant of land to the colony, which was given the name of 
Hirsch; and 49 families were brought in by JCA and the Alliance 
Israelite in May 1892 and more came later in the year. These 
colonists suffered almost overwhelming hardship owing to harsh 
weather, the obduracy of the hard-packed virgin soil and plagues 
of grasshoppers; so a large proportion left. But a few hung on, 
the weather improved, so did the crop results, and by 1897 there 
was a sufficient population to require the existence of two schools, 
the expenses of which were covered by JCA. 

Undaunted by the at best ambiguous results at Hirsch, in 1900 
JCA came to an agreement with the Canadian government 
whereby the Canadian immigration agent in London would select 
a number of Romanian Jewish families, for whose settlement all 
expenses would be paid by JCA. An area 75 miles northeast of 
Regina, 25 miles from the railway station of Qu'Appelle, was 
chosen. According to Simon Belkin, JCA's Canadian manager 
for many years and historian of Jewish immigration into Canada, 
the land was suitable for mixed farming but 'subject to early frost 
and too cut up. to be suitable for wheat growing'. ^ Early in 
1901, 49 families comprising 100 people arrived at Qu'Appelle. 
With the ill-luck that seemed to attend the initiation of so many 
JCA enterprises, however, they were struck by an epidemic of 
diphtheria and had to wait weeks until they could proceed to their 
land, erect log houses under the instruction of 'some Indian half- 
breeds from the nearby reservation', plant some potatoes and 
seed some land for hay. In JCA's agreement with the Canadian 
government it was provided that the latter would furnish guidance 
and instruction for the settlers. Unfortunately, the local residents 
chosen for this function could not communicate with the immi- 
grants, who spoke only Yiddish, German or Romanian. In any 
case, the local people 'despised the newcomers and looked upon 
the entire scheme as a costly joke doomed to failure'. A deposit 



of $200,000 by JCA, which was intended for the purchase of 
equipment and Hvestock, went to buy food, leaving no funds for 
tools or animals to work the land. In consequence many settlers 

At this juncture JCA asked the Jewish Agricultural Society 
(JAS) of New York to take over the supervision. Agents of JAS, 
by weeding out the less capable settlers, stopping the dole and 
making further advances for the purchase of implements and draft 
animals, succeeded by 1904 in getting the colony at Qu'Appelle 
on its feet. In 1907 JAS withdrew and JCA's Canadian Committee 
took on the management of the colonies. In the subsequent years 
these colonies and two additional ones started by JCA managed, 
if not to prosper, at least to maintain themselves. Although there 
was a considerable movement out, sufficient replacements were 
found to keep the population stable. 

One reason for the departures was the harshness of the living 
and working conditions in these colonies, especially at the begin- 
ning. A descendant of one of the early Canadian pioneers writes: 

The colony [Edenbridge, founded 1906] became a monument 
to the courage, enterprise and adaptability of the Jew. Out 
of the dense poplar, pack pine and willow, with the axe and 
plough, they won their little clearings acre by acre from the 
surrounding forest, and built their log houses and stables, 
chinked with clay and coated with white-wash. The scrub 
was so thick that one settler got lost for a full day on his own 

Within a surprisingly short time, however, those settlers who 
remained did well enough to be able to enjoy some of life's 
amenities. By 1917 there was an active theatrical group in Eden- 
bridge, numbering more than a dozen. 

Through its Canadian Committee, JCA continued its close 
relationship with the colonies, making advances for seed and 
equipment and dispatching instructors. In 1915 there were 225 
Jewish farm families, 966 people in all, in the five principal JCA 
colonies: Hirsch, Lipton (Qu'Appelle), Sonnenfeld and Eden- 
bridge in Saskatchewan and Rumsey in Alberta. The total number 
of Jews then living on Canadian farms was about 3,000, counting 
minor JCA colonies and individuals not connected with JCA. 
Among these individual farmers was a group some 300 strong 
near Winnipeg, who rented or owned 20-30 acres each. They 
produced eggs, milk, butter and vegetables, which they brought 
into town for sale each day. 

With the coming of the First World War the government urged 
all farmers to expand their operations. The farmers complied. 



They borrowed to enlarge their planting, often on unsuitable 
land, and increase their livestock; this also made more land neces- 
sary, which was purchased with more borrowed money. The 
sharp decline in prices in 1919-20 then forced many out of busi- 
ness. Instead of building up the colonies further, JCA had to 
'engage in rescue operations to save farmers from bankruptcy'. 5 
And even if they did not go bankrupt, many farmers left the 
land; war prosperity and jobs in munition factories had already 
provided many with the means and incentive to do so. Young 
people of marriageable age were under particular pressure to go 
to areas of more concentrated Jewish population because of the 
difficulty of finding suitable mates in the scattered, sparsely popu- 
lated colonies. The result of these economic and social influences 
was a reduction in the number of Jews in agriculture. 

In 1925 there were 142 farmers, 620 persons, in the five settle- 
ments, a clear reduction from the 1915 figures of 225 and 966 
respectively. In that year (1925) there were altogether 132, 000 Jews 
in Canada^, so the farmers constituted a very small proportion of 
the Jewish population. Nevertheless, Belkin sums up as follows: 

It is clear that Jewish land settlement in Canada made a 
contribution to the growth of the Jewish community in 
several ways. It attracted many Jewish immigrants from 
Eastern Europe and even from the United States to come to 
Canada and settle on homesteads. It provided many 
immigrants who arrived in Canada with a profitable 
occupation of their own choice. It helped disillusioned factory 
workers or other city Jews unable to find occupations for 
their manual labor in the cities to establish themselves in 
independent enterprises. Jewish farming also served the 
Jewish community well from a public relations point of view. 
With the exception of the Mennonites, Jews were the first 
immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe to make a 
contribution to the agricultural development of what was 
then known as the North-West Territories. They proved that 
Jews can be pioneers even if not motivated by national or 
religious ideals. They also proved that Jews accustomed to 
city living can, with adequate financial support, become. . . 
as good farmers as any ethnic group.'' 

From a numerical point of view, the immigration work of 
YMHBS in Montreal affected many more people than went to 
the western colonies. By 1901 the total number of Jews in the 
country had increased to 16,401, about 10,000 having come 
during the previous decade. In 1899 alone 2,202 Romanian Jews 
arrived in Canada, many of whom had been sent from that 



country by JCA. Later, in the years 1901-6, 4,304 Romanian Jews 
arrived in Canada with the direct or indirect assistance of JCA. » 

After the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, and the pogroms in 1905 
inspired by the unsatisfactory conclusion of the Russo-Japanese 
War, the bulk of the Jewish immigrants to Canada - 40,000 in 
the period 1906-10 - came from Russia. YMHBS provided the 
customary services: reception at the port, housing, instruction in 
Enghsh through the Baron de Hirsch Institute, the finding of 
employment and the provision of legal representation where 
necessary. In 1910 the most interesting placement was that of a 
dozen graduates of JCA's European farm schools on Canadian 

Immigration work had grown to such an extent that JCA felt 
that this should be separated from the local activities of YMHBS. 
The Association therefore established its own Canadian 
Committee in 1907 to take charge of its immigration and farm 
settlement programmes. When in the depression of 1907-8 a 
Jewish soup kitchen was set up in Montreal, JCA paid its 

Jewish immigration into Canada, which had followed a rising 
course in the first years of the twentieth century, reached a peak 
of 24,000 in 1913-14. The First World War brought about an 
almost complete cessation of this movement, which, however, 
resumed after 1919, but not at the same high level. The figure 
for 1921-2 was 8,404. In 1920 the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society 
of Canada (JIAS) was formed, just in time to deal with the 
migrations of European Jews displaced in the war. JCA's 
Canadian Committee was a member of JIAS and for many years 
contributed largely to its support. Ironically, no sooner had JIAS 
been set up than the Canadian government in 1920 and 1922 
promulgated regulations that made mass Jewish immigration 
impossible. The decade 1922-31 saw Jewish immigration fall to 
about 3,000 a year, and in some years more Jews left Canada for 
the United States than came into the country. 

In 1923 JIAS did persuade the Canadian authorities to permit 
5,000 Russian Jewish refugees, from a much greater number 
stranded in Europe, to come to Canada at the rate of one hundred 
a week; but only 3,000 people selected by JCA came in under 
this arrangement and there was an infinity of bureaucratic hair- 
splitting, ending in the government's cancellation of the unused 
permits. 9 In the next decade, 1931-41, when Jews' need for a 
haven was most acute because of Hitler's rise to power, Jewish 
immigration to Canada was cut to about 600 or 700 a year, which 
was equalled by the movement of Jews from Canada to the United 



A recent book published m Torontoio asserts that Canada, in 
comparison with its size, had the worst record of any Western 
nation for admitting Jewish immigrants during the Hitler period. 
The book says that between 1933 and 1945 the United States 
admitted '200,000 Jewish refugees, Palestine 120,000, embattled 
Britain 70,000, penurious Brazil 27,000, distant Chma 25,000, 
tiny Bohvia and Chile 14,000 each' All this while Canada 
admitted only the trickle just mentioned. The reason, the book 
makes clear, was plain and simple anti-Semitism, which ran from 
the highest level, the Prime Mmister (Mackenzie King), and the 
High Commissioner in London (Vincent Massey) down to and 
through the operating levels of the bureaucracy. Unfortunately, 
the position of these officials reflected a basic attitude of the 
Canadian people at large." This policy of exclusion continued 
after the war. 'Fully three years after some death camps had been 
liberated. . almost no Jewish refugees had yet entered Canada. '12 
It is true that, just before the Second World War broke out, about 
200 Jewish farm families, mostly from Czechoslovakia, who had 
means of their own, did manage, with enormous tribulations and 
the help of the Canadian Jewish community, to settle; and in 1941 
Canadian Jewish Congress was able to obtain residence permits 
for about 1,000 German refugees who had been sent to Canada 
from England. But these were small palliatives which did little 
to lighten the black record. 

The history of JCA in Canada after the First World War is 
centred on the same two main concerns as in the years before - 
the support of the Jewish farm colonies, and the facilitation of 
Jewish immigration and assistance to the immigrants. Unfortu- 
nately, the Association was doomed to disappointment in both 
these endeavours. In a sense, Jewish farming in Canada never 
recovered from the 1919-20 slump. JCA kept manfully sending 
small groups of new arrivals out to the western colonies, 
providing them with guidance by capable agronomists, buying 
more land for eventual sale to the farmers, and above all making 
loans to them; but the number of Jewish farmers in Canada just 
did not increase. As new ones settled, older ones departed. 

We have seen how low the population figures for 1925 were in 
the five chief colonies. This was not for want of effort. In 1922 
JCA recorded that over the previous 15 years it had made 1567 
loans for a total of $520,000 (of which half had been repaid). 
JCA's provision of credit in western Canada was more important 
than elsewhere because of the lack of other sources of financing. 
The Association also helped by supporting synagogues, schools 
and ritual baths. In 1923, 251 loans were made, totalling $52,051, 
but repayments were only $13,864 because in that year agriculture 



did not prosper and all the Canadian settlements lost population. 
In 1925, when crops were much better, only 12 loans were made, 
and collections were the best in five years. The Canadian 
Committee was thus emboldened to settle 100 people in the 
following year. By that time JCA owned 149 farms that had been 
abandoned by previous settlers, of which 100 were let to tenants 
pending their occupation by newcomers. In spite of owning all 
this land, JCA was optimistic enough to buy 10,000 acres near 
Hirsch and Sonnenfeld and to provide houses and barns for 
prospective new settlers. Although 1927 was a year of mixed 
results owing to unseasonably cold weather and the prevalence of 
wheat rust, and in 1929 the weather so deteriorated that the Jewish 
farmers produced practically no crops, JCA nevertheless installed 
thirty-four new families. 

With the onset of the Great Depression, agricultural prices fell 
and stayed down; in one sense, however, this did not matter to 
the Jewish farmers, because from 1929 onwards disaster befell 
almost every crop. These were the years of the great droughts, 
especially severe from 1933 to 1937. And if there was not drought, 
there was excessive heat; if not heat, there were locusts; and if 
not locusts, stem rust ruined the wheat. In 1934 JCA reported 
the worst crop in ten years, and in 1937 it reported that crops 
were worse than ever. 

This multiplication of woes, however, did not destroy the 
western colonies entirely. About 80 farmers - 235 persons - hung 
on. JCA continued to dispense loans, which from the inception 
of the Canadian Committee in 1907 until 1946 totalled $726,664. 
And despite all the hardships the western farmers suffered, JCA 
received back from them over this same period a total of $694,762 
- $474,829 in repayments of principal and $219,933 in rentals and 
reimbursement of tax payments. 


If any country in the period before the First World War could 
have claimed the dubious honour of being a close second to Russia 
in the intensity of its anti-Semitic actions and attitudes, it was 
probably Romania. In 1900 its population included 250,000 

Before the war the country consisted of the two provinces of 
Wallachia and Moldavia, which had broken away from Turkey 
and had had its independence recognised by the Congress of 
Berlin in 1878. One condition of this recognition was the grant 
of civil rights to the Jews. '^ The Romanian government paid no 



attention to this condition however and managed to win recogni- 
tion from many of the Great Powers, for example Germany, by 
a simple process - bribery.''* By government decree, then, Jews 
were forbidden to be lawyers, teachers, chemists or stockbrokers, 
or to sell commodities that were the subject of government mono- 
polies (tobacco, salt, alcohol). 

It was also very difficult for Jewish youngsters to attend public 
schools: they were treated as foreigners and were allowed to 
register in school only if there were vacancies, an unlikely occur- 
rence because of the insufficiency of places; furthermore, if a 
Jewish child was fortunate enough to be admitted, a high tuition 
fee was demanded; finally, in 1893, a law was passed expelling 
Jews from school entirely. In these circumstances the Jewish 
communities organised their own schools, defraying expenses out 
of gifts, subscriptions and the proceeds of social events such as 
plays and fetes. The Jewish schools followed the government's 
curricula and in addition taught Hebrew and German. As time 
passed, however, the Jewish organisations found the task of 
financing the school system more and more onerous. It was 
especially hard to raise the funds for erecting new buildings. 
Towards the end of the century an economic crisis began to 
manifest itself, and the Romanian Jews appealed to JCA for help. 
JCA despatched an emissary to Romania and in 1899 undertook 
to help ten schools in Bucharest, the capital, and Jassy, the second 
city. These were the chief locations of the Jewish population. 
Jassy, though a centre of Jewish learning, was also the centre of 
anti-Semitic activity in the country. 

The economic crisis deepened as the nineteenth century ended, 
and this led to the persecution of the Jews as a sort of relief valve 
for the discontent of the populace. While JCA continued to help 
schools, it also focused its attention on helping Jews to leave 
Romania. As we have already seen, the movement of 'walkers' 
out of Romania began in 1900. In 1901 JCA stationed an emigra- 
tion agent there, who set up a network of offices to help migrants 
in all places with a large Jewish population and enhsted the help 
of prominent Jews, usually the heads of the local B'nai Brith 
societies. By this time the economic decline had become so serious 
that JCA was distributing food to the poor. 

In 1901, 3,187 Romanian Jews were helped to emigrate. The 
Israelitische Allianz in Vienna and the Montefiore Society in 
Rotterdam, both recipients of JCA subventions, furnished advice, 
travel information, documents and sometimes lodging to the trav- 
ellers. It is interesting, in view of the Canadian government's 
attitude towards Jewish immigrants after the First World War, 
that in the first decade of the century some hundreds received 



governmental assistance to get to Canada. By 1903 the number 
of Romanian emigrants helped by JCA and the transit societies 
had risen to 6,826. Disturbances in 1905 and the peasant revolt 
of 1907, in the course of which Jewish shops and homes were 
pillaged, plus a decree expelling Jews from villages, caused a 
further exodus from the country. 

In the meantime the JCA involvement with the Jewish school 
system expanded, from 24 schools in 1900 to 35 in 1905, including 
a vocational school where the boys were taught carpentry and 
metalwork and the girls sewing and other skills related to 
dressmaking. JCA was proud of the fact that it overcame conserv- 
ative opposition to schools mixing boys and girls. 

In 1908 the Jewish minority was further disadvantaged by legis- 
lation that made it very difficult for its members to obtain factory 
jobs and almost impossible for them to work in agriculture. At 
the same time the public schools were closed to Jews entirely, 
and attendance at the JCA-assisted schools went up to 7,121. The 
next year JCA helped four more schools, bringing the total 
number of pupils involved to 7,772. Also in that year, clothes, 
shoes and books were distributed to the poorer pupils. From this 
time until the outbreak of the First World War, JCA's support 
for the Jewish schools in Romania increased, as the economic 
difficulties owing to the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 reduced local 
school revenues. By 1913 JCA was aiding 45 schools and had 
contributed to the construction or rehabilitation of 30 school 
buildings. Besides this support, JCA had influenced 'its' schools, 
attended now by 10,534 boys and girls, to introduce modern 
curricula, including mathematics and European languages. 

Galicia and Bukovina 

Of the great Austro-Hungarian Empire before the First World 
War, GaHcia was the northeasternmost province. Largely popu- 
lated by Poles (it became part of Poland after the war), it also 
contained a sizeable number of Jews - about 900,000 out of a total 
population of 8 miUion. Even among the generally poor Jfews of 
Eastern Europe, the Galitzianer had the reputation of being the 
poorest of the poor. The Baron de Hirsch himself in the course 
of his travels through the territory on his railway-building enter- 
prises, had noticed how exceptionally poverty-stricken the Jews 
were in that province. One of the major purposes of his Austrian 
Stiftung was to provide schooling for Jewish children there. 
Before the First World War the Stiftung operated 48 schools with 
7,800 pupils. 15 The Stiftung had also created an apprenticeship 



programme but was having trouble in finding employment for 
its graduates. In 1899 JC A agreed to give it a subvention to help 
place 100 students over a three-year period. 

JCA had in that year sent agents to Gahcia in order to start an 
assistance programme; this began with the purchase of a domain 
called Slobodka-Lesna, on which JCA intended to establish a farm 
\school and to raise crops on its own account. 

In the course of the next few years, as the Slobodka farm 
became operational, it produced grain, beet and peas and raised 
some cows. Forty men, among them a number of Jews, worked 
the place. The chief crop, however, was potatoes, which were 
converted into alcohol by a distillery on the property. The farm 
school there was also functioning, with about seventy-five 
students. A number of graduates of Slobodka-Lesna migrated to 
Canada and settled in the JCA colonies in the West. 

Later, JCA widened its educational activity to start a carpentry 
school in Stanislavov, Galicia's principal city, the pupils of which 
included some graduates of the Stiftung system. This place, 
however, was not successful and by 1912 it was decided to close 
it. The farm school continued to operate and even expanded 
somewhat; in 1913, in addition to teaching carpentry and agricul- 
ture, it provided courses in metal forging, and that year sent ten 
graduates overseas and ten to jobs in Austria. Although 1913 was 
a poor crop year, the farm at Slobodka-Lesna had increased its 
planted area to about 860 acres. 

However, the outstanding accomplishment of the JCA mission 
of 1899 was the initiation of a network of loan kassas in Galicia. 
In that year the JCA agents set up kassas in three of the principal 
cities, Kolomea, Stanislavov and Tarnow, to serve workers and 
small businessmen. In 1900 a fourth was added in Brody, famous 
as the stopping place for refugees from the Russian pogroms of 
the 1880s. These institutions filled an obvious need of Galicia's 
Jewry; by 1903 there were six, with 4,427 members. 

As time went on, the kassa movement continued to expand. 
By 1905 there were 11, with branches in smaller cities, covering 
communities with a total of about 150,000 Jewish inhabitants. 
These kassas had 14,515 members, which meant that half the 
Jewish families belonged, on the assumption of one member per 
family. This major JCA activity in Galicia continued to grow at 
a high rate until the outbreak of the First World War. In 1913, 
when there was a depression owing to fear of a war with Russia, 
the enterprise proved its worth by extending credit to Jewish 
chents when all other sources dried up. By then Gahcia had 27 
kassas, mostly in the eastern part of the province, with 39,000 
members. These associations had made over 20,000 loans 



amounting to 4,675,000 Austrian kroner (worth about £195,000 
in 1913). 

Bukovina, the province to the south of Gahcia, was of less 
interest to JCA because its Jewish population was much smaller 
- 102,000 out of a total of 800,000. However, in 1912 JCA helped 
a kassa to open in Czernovitz, the principal city. After the First 
World War, Galicia became the southern part of the new Poland 
and Bukovina was joined to Romania. 


One characteristic of JCA in its early years was courage, not to 
say foolhardiness. JCA did not forbear to rush in where others 
had not thought to tread. Fortunately, in view of their unfruitful 
outcomes, the efforts in Cyprus and Turkey were on a very 
small scale in comparison with the Argentine or even Canadian 

In 1897 a group of Russian Jewish families who had reached 
London and formed a society called Ahavat Zion (Love of Zion) 
asked JCA for a loan to purchase land in Cyprus on which they 
would settle and farm. (Why these lovers of Zion wanted to go 
to Cyprus is not clear from the record.) On the basis of an 
investigator's favourable report, JCA granted the loan. Ahavat 
Zion bought an estate of 1,110 hectares called Margo-Tchiflik, 
about 14 kilometres from Nicosia, the principal city on the island. 
Some 15 families who claimed (with little justification) to be 
farmers settled there. They were provided with houses, stables, 
animals, tools and seed. A school for the children was set up. 
Three of the first families, who had left good jobs in London, 
promptly returned to England. 

This episode in a sense epitomised the history of JCA in 
Cyprus. The settlers there, because they had trouble making a 
living, because they could not tolerate the island's extreme heat, 
because of the lack of Jewish life (the colony was so small) and 
because Palestine was so close, were constantly leaving, though 
it must be said the leavers were replaced — often by Jews from 

By 1899 only five of the original families remained; the others 
had been replaced by Palestinian Jews who had attended the 
Mikveh-Israel agricultural school near Jaffa. Included in the Jewish 
population were a teacher, a storekeeper and some artisans. More 
important, perhaps, JCA became the owner of Margo-Tchiflik 
instead of just being a lender. By the turn of the century it was 
apparent that numerous obstacles had to be overcome: much of 



the land, uncultivated for many years, had to be cleared, and 
some of the equipment used was primitive; many of the departing 
families sold their livestock before leaving Cyprus, so that only 
six cows were left in the colony. Also, young unmarried men 
from Mikveh-Israel had replaced families with children; there 
were so few youngsters now that the school was closed. 

At Margo-Tchiflik in 1902, in addition to the five families of 
Jewish settlers, there were four farm workers, former Mikveh- 
Israel students. The only sign of progress was an increase in the 
number of sheep. By 1908 the number of families was built up 
to 16, but in the course of that year nine families departed, for 
the reasons we have mentioned earlier and for the added reason 
that a number of those newly come from Russia suffered from 
marsh fever, to which the old inhabitants were immune. 

There was no essential change in the nature of the Cyprus 
situation from this time to the start of the First World War. No 
sooner had JCA brought in new settlers to fill the vacancies than 
there were further departures. In 1912 the Jewish population fell 
to 155 (the peak had been 189), but in its report for that year JCA 
still hoped to stabilise the colony. 


In 1896 JCA had come to the assistance of Rehovoth and other 
Jewish colonies in Palestine, and in 1897, when it had helped in 
the purchase of the estate on Cyprus, the Council had felt the 
need to take additional action on behalf of Jews in the Orient. 
They voted a credit to establish sixteen graduates of the Jerusalem 
vocational school of the Alliance Israelite in business in either 
Palestine or Asia Minor - then, as now, part of Turkey. In 1898 
JCA took the further step of determining to buy a domain of 
about 2,600 hectares on a railway line 107 kilometres from 
Smyrna (now Izmir), the principal port in Asia Minor. Its inten- 
tion was to use most of this tract, which it named Or Yehuda 
(Light ofjudah), for settling Jewish farmers, and to reserve part 
of it for an agricultural school. By 1900 the operation was under 
way. JCA farmed 193 hectares itself mostly under vines, but it 
also had a herd of almost 1,000 sheep, as the place seemed 
especially well suited for oviculture. As a workforce it employed 
ten former students of Mikveh-Israel and three Russian settlers. 

Another 178 hectares were cultivated by share-croppers whose 
principal crop was grain; 151 hectares were let. The latter were 
used for grain, tobacco and opium poppies. The 1900 report 
innocently says (p. 62, translated): "the land for opium and tobacco 



is particularly scarce and can be let under excellent conditions. Or 
Yehuda contains sufficiently large areas which can be adapted to 
these crops.' Actually, opium was not an important product of 
Or Yehuda. In subsequent reports the references thereto are of 
the briefest, while considerable space is devoted to other products 
like grapes, olives, wool, etc. Altogether there were 94 people on 
the domain (not counting the students), of whom 76 were Jewish, 
the rest Greek. (At that time the west coast of Asia Minor, though 
part of Turkey, was largely inhabited by Greeks.) 

As for the agricultural school, a temporary building had been 
put up to accommodate 30 students - four young men from 
Mikveh who were to complete their studies and also work on the 
farm, ten from Alliance Israelite schools, and 16 Romanians who 
had to learn French before they could study because instruction 
was in that language. 

In 1903 JCA undertook a new responsibility in Turkey. Dr 
Warburg of Berlin, a scion of the famous banking and philan- 
thropic family, had earlier helped a group of Romanian Jews to 
settle in two localities in Turkish Anatolia. There were 45 families, 
250 people, at a place called Karaya and 35 families, 140 people, 
at a location named Salizar. Warburg began to fmd it impossible 
to finance and manage these colonies and appealed to JCA for 
help. JCA responded by taking charge and extending credit to 
help the settlers build houses and obtain equipment. In 1905 the 
harvest was very poor and many families left Salizar. JCA 
consoled itself by remarking that they were not well suited to be 
farmers, a note it had sounded so often on similar occasions that 
it was beginning to sound hollow. In 1907 the crops were poor 
again owing to excessively cold and dry weather, and more 
settlers left both places. JCA tried to retrieve the situation by 
shifting the emphasis from grain to sheep. The following year 
the Association removed its administrator from the settlements 
and put the management in the hands of committees of the 
farmers, retaining an agronomist to instruct them. In 1910 matters 
improved somewhat as 15 new Russian families, largely self- 
financed, took over the lots that others had abandoned. But these 
colonies were not fated to enjoy success for long. In 1912, with 
the outbreak of the Balkan Wars, the Jewish immigrants left 
Karaya (which had been renamed Mamoure) in a body and only 
12 families hung on at Salizar. 

Despite the setbacks it suffered at these two places, JCA was 
sufficiently confident of prospects in Turkey to open an office in 
Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1910 for the guidance of Russian 
Jewish immigrants interested in farming in the Sultan's empire. 
After all, the results at Or Yehuda, where JCA farmed for its 



own account, and where about a dozen Jewish share-croppers 
were working, were relatively favourable. Or Yehuda was 
producing a very wide variety of crops - grain, fruits, vegetables, 
tobacco, in addition to the wool, olives and grapes we have 
mentioned. The school was also continuing to function with 
about fifty pupils. Beyond this, two groups of Russian would- 
be immigrants were negotiating for the purchase of lands near 
Constantinople, and JCA made a loan to one of these. As soon 
as the Balkan Wars came to an end in 1913 the two groups took 
possession of their lands where they intended to raise cattle for 
sale in the city but where timber cut on the estates turned out to 
be more profitable. 

While farming operations at Or Yehuda were relatively 
successful, apart from occasional crop failures owing to bad 
weather, JCA was discovering that it was very difficult to place 
the graduates of the agricultural school, though some had gone 
as far as Canada to find jobs. Mikveh-Israel apparently was able 
to furnish all the Jewish agronomists and farm managers that 
were required in the Middle East. 

As the previous record amply demonstrates, JCA was nothing 
if not persistent. In Cyprus it hung on for years after it was 
manifest that Jews just did not want to stay there. Likewise, it 
kept the school going at Or Yehuda after it was clear that this 
too was superfluous. But in nothing was JCA more persistent 
than in its never-ceasing search for suitable destinations for 
Russian Jews. In furtherance of this quest, in 1909 and 1910 it 
sent investigators into Cilicia, part of Turkish Asia Minor, and 
to Mesopotamia, then also part of the Turkish Empire, to assess 
the possibilities these places offered for Jewish settlers. Both areas 
were at that time relatively uninhabited, but Cilicia needed 
extensive drainage and Mesopotamia needed great irrigation 
works, and since JCA had no confidence in the capacity of the 
Ottoman government to carry out such enterprises, it decided 
not to look further into these locations. It gave up its hopes for 
Mesopotamia with regret, because Baghdad, the principal city, 
had a sizeable Jewish population. With the wisdom of hindsight, 
we can today be thankful that JCA forbore to try to plant a colony 
of Russian Jewish farmers in what is now the country of Iraq. 

The United States - Baron de Hirsch Fund and Jewish Agricultural 


The year 1891, on paper at least, marked the culmination of the 
Baron's philanthropic efforts. For it happened that the three great 



foundations he established all came into legal existence in that 
year: the Jewish Colonization Association in London, the Baron 
de Hirsch Fund in New York and the Baron de Hirsch Stiftung 
in Austria. The Fund in New York received a starting capital gift 
of $2.4 million (later increased by gifts from the Baroness); this 
was much less than JCA's initial capital, but then its intended 
field of operation was much smaller. The Baron's Deed of Trist 
for the Fund, and its articles of incorporation, laid down that it 
was to confine its activities to the United States (in 1970 its 
constitution was altered to permit it to act in any country), while 
there were no territorial limitations on JCA. 

The Fund was charged with the duty of educating and relieving 
'Hebrew emigrants from Europe' and their children. It was to 
accomplish this by granting loans to agriculturists, by transport- 
ing immigrants from the port of arrival to their place of employ- 
ment, by training them in mechanics and handicrafts, and by 
instruction in English and in agriculture. On its inception the 
Fund purchased a tract of eight square miles in southern New 
Jersey, later incorporated as the town of Woodbine, on which it 
built houses with the intention of having settlers cultivate farms 
during the spring and summer, and in the winter work in 
factories, a number of which the Fund erected. This agro-indus- 
trial experiment turned out to be unsuccessful, '^ but early in its 
history the Fund devoted a section of the Woodbine property to 
the buildings and grounds of the newly established Baron de 
Hirsch Agricultural School. This institution's student body in 
some years numbered 120, but the immense growth of public 
schools of agriculture and the drop in attendance during the First 
World War influenced the Fund's trustees to close it in 1917. In 
the course of its existence, representatives of JCA visited the 
school and prepared reports on its activities for the information 
not only of their own head office but also of the Fund. JCA did 
more than inspect; in 1901, when a fire destroyed a Woodbine 
factory, which was apparently not insured, JCA contributed 
toward its rebuilding. 

The Fund had already asked for and received other material aid 
from JCA. Very early on, the Fund had attempted to provide 
immigrants with vocational training and soon decided that it 
would have to construct its own building to offer effective 
teaching. Therefore in 1899 it put up the Baron de Hirsch Trade 
School in Manhattan, helped by large contributions from 
Baroness Clara and JCA. This institution gave practical short 
courses in painting, carpentry, plumbing, sheet metalwork, print- 
ing and other skills. The Trade School, which did not charge 
tuition fees, operated until 1935. It was then closed, partly because 



the city school system was offering vocational training and partly 
because the Fund's resources had been depleted in the Great 
Depression; moreover, JCA in 1926 stopped its annual subven- 
tions to the Trade School because it also was financially hard- 
pressed. In the course of its useful life, about 10,000 young men 
attended this institution. 

The trustees were well aware of the Baron's conviction that the 
best defence against anti-Semitism would be the existence of a 
large and successful Jewish farming class. Therefore, one of the 
Fund's first acts was to help Jewish farmers, immigrants from 
Russia, who had in the 1880s settled near Vineland, New Jersey. 
But this was a relatively minor enterprise. Later, in view of the 
many other activities carried on by the Fund, such as the financing 
of port work m half a dozen cities, the support of English and 
Americanisation classes and the agricultural and trade schools, the 
trustees decided that it would be advisable to create a separate 
entity to work with Jewish farmers. In 1900 the Jewish Agricul- 
tural and Industrial Aid Society was incorporated. Its financial 
base was provided by an annual subsidy of about $68,000 from 
the Fund, which at times of necessity was increased, and by a 
pledge of S80,000 a year from JCA, which was paid until 1914, 
when the losses suffered by the Association's investments incident 
to the outbreak of the war forced it to suspend its payments. The 
expenses of one branch of the Society, which bore the un- 
euphonious name of 'Industrial Removal Office', were wholly 
paid by JCA. Its function was to keep Jewish immigrants from 
concentrating in New York; for the well established American 
Jews - those who themselves or whose fathers had come to the 
country before the big influx of Russians began — feared an 
upsurge of anti-Jewish sentiment if 'too many' uncouth, Yiddish- 
speaking 'greenhorns' collected in New York's Lower East Side. 
These feelings were shared by the JCA Council, and some time 
later by 'established' Jewish families in Buenos Aires and 
Montreal, who were also worried lest too many new arrivals 
should stay in their cities. The Industrial Removal Office operated 
from 1900 to 1917, dispersing Jewish immigrants from New 
York, the chief port of disembarkation. It did this by paying the 
fare for the immigrant and his family to some interior city such 
as Detroit or Cincinnati, where its agents, usually local B'nai 
Brith officials, had found a job opening. In its seventeen years 
the Industrial Removal Office dealt with no fewer than 79,000 

The other branches of the Jewish Agricultural Society (the 
words 'Industrial Aid' were dropped in 1921) over these years 
developed a technique for helping Jewish would-be farmers. This 



technique, which remained relatively unchanged for about 60 
years, was to provide such farmers with subordinate loans after 
they had borrowed as much as they could from conventional 
banking or government sources. Before the Federal Extension 
Service commenced its work in 1914, the Society operated a small 
extension service of its own, having itinerant agents travelling 
through states such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut 
which had numbers of Jewish farmers, giving them instruction 
and advice. From 1907 to 1957 the Society published a monthly 
magazine in Yiddish and English. At the beginning of the twen- 
tieth century, the Society, as we have seen, provided management 
services for the JCA colonies in western Canada. From 1900, 
when JCA started publishing comprehensive annual reports, until 
1937, long after it had ceased making contributions to the 
American organisations, these reports included a section devoted 
to the Baron de Hirsch Fund and the Jewish Agricultural Society. 
It must be confessed that the latter's rather modest accomplish- 
ments were described by JCA in adulatory terms that they did 
not quite deserve. 

In 1946, after the Second World War, the Fund turned $128,000 
over to JCA, with the intention that the Joint Distribution 
Committee, in agreement with JCA, distribute this sum to needy 
'Jews overseas'. The money was used to help some Jews depart 
from Europe and for emergency relief needs there. 

The movement of so-called 'displaced persons' from Europe to 
the United States from 1946 to 1952 created a period of great 
activity for JAS, as 2,500 to 3,000 Jewish immigrant families 
settled on farms in those years or soon thereafter. These newco- 
mers- mostly bought or built small poultry farms in New Jersey, 
helped by second, third or fourth mortgages from JAS. In 1951 
about a thousand immigrant farmers joined a self-help organis- 
ation, the South Jersey Poultry Farmers Association, which made 
interest-free loans to its members. The demand for loans outran 
the resources, and JAS, feeling that the $1 million it had then 
outstanding in loans in the area was enough, requested help from 
JCA. The Association, always ready to hasten to the assistance 
of Jewish farmers in trouble, agreed to provide $35,000. The mid- 
1950s marked the peak years of prosperity for New Jersey egg and 
poultry producers. When, later, this trade ceased to be profitable, 
almost all of them were forced out of business, their Association 
disintegrated and the lenders lost nearly half their investment. '^ 



Grants to organisations 

The Alliance Israelite Universelle was founded in 1860 in Paris as 
a Jewish defence organisation, the first such institution in Jewish 
history. Its purpose was to help protect Jews subject to attack 
because of accusations of ritual murder, conspiracies against 
Gentiles and other such timeworn or newly invented anti-Semitic 
fabrications. It was created in specific response to a number of 
incidents such as the notorious Mortara case in Italy in 1858, 
when a Jewish child was abducted by Catholic conversionists. 

Besides defence, a second and subsidiary object of the Alliance 
was 'to encourage the pursuit of useful handicrafts'. ^^ Accord- 
ingly, it built up a network of schools, mostly vocational, for 
Jewish young people in the countries of the Levant. Among these 
were agricultural schools at Djedeida in Tunis and Mikveh-Israel 
in Palestine. It is interesting that, although the Alliance was far 
from being Zionist (in fact, at the Versailles Peace Conference the 
Alliance's representative took an anti-Zionist position), it chose 
Palestine as the site of the second of these institutions. 

Another branch of the Alliance's activity was to provide relief 
for Jews in trouble. The Alliance raised money for those fleeing 
the Russian pogroms of 1881 and helped a number of them on 
their way to America, including, as we have seen, the Jewish 
settlers in Moosomin in western Canada. 

As we also saw earlier, the Baron de Hirsch's first substantial 
philanthropic gift of 1 million francs in 1873 went for the benefit 
of the Alliance schools in Turkey. He also made large gifts to the 
organisation annually, notably another million francs in 1882 for 
a fund for refugees from Russian pogroms. His beneficence to 
the Alliance culminated in 1889, when he set up an endowment 
the income from which was intended to cover the organisation's 
annual 4U0,000-franc deficit. Besides making gifts to it, the Baron 
relied on advice from its members in his philanthropic activities. 
Narcisse Leven, a member of the JCA Council and its President 
after the Baron's death, was also President of the Alliance from 
1898 to his own death in 1915. Hirsch and Cazes, the joint heads 
of JCAs Buenos Aires administration for many years, had 
previously been administrators of Alliance schools. They were 
only two of many JCA staff members and teachers who had come 
from this source. 

It is not surprising then that, after the Baron's death, JCA made 
grants to the Alliance and in fact has continued to make such 
grants every year from that time to the present. When the 
Baroness died in 1899 she left £425,995 to JCA with the proviso 
that the income from this legacy be paid over to the Ahiance. 



This Sum was sadly reduced to £118,261 by the ravages in the 
German and other European securities caused by the First World 

At the end of the nineteeth century and at the beginning of the 
twentieth, JCA's grants were intended to help the Alliance 
schools, like the Ecole Normale at Auteuil in France, the voca- 
tional schools in Jerusalem and elsewhere, the primary schools in 
Arab areas then part of the Turkish Empire, and the agricultural 
schools in Tunis and Jaffa (Mikveh-Israel). Many alumni of this 
last migrated to JCA colonies in America, Cyprus and Turkey, 
and many became agronomists on JCA's staff in those places. 

But JCA's grants-in-aid went far beyond the Alliance. Jewish 
organisations of many varieties and in many locations have 
benefited from JCA's generosity. For example, a horticultural 
school at Ahlem, near Hamburg, to which JCA sent dozens of 
students from Russia, was one; another was a teachers' training 
establishment in Frankfurt-am-Main where Russians were sent to 
study prior to employment in JCA's Russian school network; 
another was a horticultural school in Budapest. We have already 
mentioned that JCA subsidised the Montefiore Society of 
Rotterdam and the Ezra Society in Antwerp because they assisted 
emigrants en route overseas. Likewise, associations in Germany 
and Austria that helped Jews in transit received JCA subventions, 
as did, in 1913, a committee in Basle performing the same serv- 
ices. The London Board of Guardians for the Relief of the Jewish 
Poor, which was interested in sending Jewish emigres to overseas 
destinations outside the Americas, received support for many 
years beginning in 1905. This Board helped hundreds of clients 
in this way each year; in 1907 it sent 665 people overseas, to 
Canada (breaking its own general rule). South Africa, New 
Zealand and Australia. Because JCA was so much concerned with 
the possibility that Jewish women travelling alone might be the 
prey of white slavers, it contributed to the Jewish Association for 
the Protection of Girls and Women in London, which in the year 
1906 alone inspected 782 ships and 37,982 passengers in England 
and Argentina. Similarly, JCA in 1910 helped the Association 
pour la Repression de la Traite des Blanches, which maintained 
agents at the railway stations in Paris, and the Association pour 
la Protection de la Jeune Fille Israelite, which had committees in 
Cherbourg and Boulogne. 

Nor did all this exhaust the list of beneficiaries. For several 
years before the First World War there was a loan kassa in Prague, 
with hundreds of members, that received help from JCA. 

The general pattern into which these benefactions fell was 
largely within the two major fields of JCA's interest: support of 



educational institutions, and help to Jews leaving Europe for 
overseas destinations. 




During the First World War the difficulties of communication 
between Paris and South America made transfers of money nearly 
impossible. Curiously, however, sending funds to the Near East 
and Poland seems to have been possible. At various times between 
1915 and 1918 when Turkey was an active ally of Germany, JCA 
transferred funds to the German Consul-General in Smyrna for 
the JCA farm at Or Yehuda and to Constantinople for the relief 
of poor Jews in that city and in Asiatic Turkey. To Palestine, 
which until the victories of General AUenby in 1917 and 1918 was 
under Turkish rule, JCA managed to transmit considerable sums 
for the use of the orange growers, for the relief of the poor and 
for the JCA administration. Most surprising was the dispatch of 
money for the benefit of vocational schools in Warsaw and other 
cities in what had been Russian Poland, an area conquered and 
occupied by the German Army within a year or so after the 
outbreak of war in August 1914. 

In general, however, the 1914-18 period was one of virtual 
hibernation for JCA. The settlements in Argentina and Canada 
maintained themselves. The Brazilian colony, Quatro-Irmaos, as 
we have seen, lost a large part of its population. In Palestine there 
was a severe economic depression, and the situation varied from 
place to place. Jews were often subjected to arrest and harassment 
by the Turkish military because of a probably justified suspicion 
that they were pro-AUies at heart. (The Turks did uncover an 
active Jewish spy-ring serving the British - the Nili Conspiracy.) 
The Jews in Palestine were also under pressure to adopt Turkish 
citizenship, which carried the obhgation of military service. In 
consequence, almost 40 per cent of the 80,000 Jews who were in 
Palestine in 1914 left, some JCA/Rothschild colonists among 
them. However, certain areas, notably Galilee, survived the war 
with little bad effect. The same can unfortunately not be said of 
the networks of committees, elementary and vocational schools 
and loan kassas that JCA had established in western Russia and 
Romania. These institutions lay athwart the path of the advancing 
German armies and were, for all practical purposes, wiped out. 

After the war, the nature of JCA activities and thereby the 
history of JCA entered a new phase. The following pages relate 
the variety of JCA programmes and the countries in which they 
were carried out during the inter-war years. 


Argentina after the First World War 

On 31 December 1913 JCA counted 26,648 Jewish people living 
in its Argentine colonies, of whom 18,900 were members of 
colonists' famihes.i At the end of 1918 the comparable figures 
were 26,698 and 18,763 respectively. Thus, during these five 
years the population of the settlements had maintained itself with 
remarkable stability. At the same time, in response to wartime 
conditions, there had been some change in farming practices, and 
notably a shift to wheat from other cereals. Hectares planted to 
wheat had expanded from about 90,000 in 1913 to 125,000 in 
1918,- while flax had been halved to 25,000. Both the total area 
under cultivation and the average cultivated area per colonist had 
decreased. On the other hand, the cattle stock had grown from 
60,000 to 85,000 and sheep from 4,000 to 14,000, all this in 
response to strong export demand. 

The relationship between the colonists and JCA 

If the essential pattern of production had not changed much 
during the war, the same could not be said of the spirit of the 
colonists. They were more ready and better prepared than they 
had been in the past to manifest their feelings of opposition to 
and dislike of JCA. Not that some had been reluctant as early as 
1900 to battle fiercely with JCA over the form of the contracts 
and to criticise it in the press. Again, in 1910 the Mauricio settlers 
had brought lawsuits against JCA to win freedom to sell their 
holdings at their own, not JCA's, pleasure, and applauded Jazano- 
vich on his anti-JCA 'crusade'. But there was not a concerted, 
organised effort to oppose JCA until after the First World War. 
In 1910 an association of all the co-operatives in the JCA colonies 
had been formed, but this was not noticeably miUtant. In 1923, 
however, the co-operatives estabHshed what eventually came to 
be called the Fraternidad Agraria, whose avowed purpose, said 
one of its founders, Marcos Wortman of Clara colony, was to 
fight JCA and uphold the dignity of the colonists in opposition 



to it. 2 The relationship between JC A and the settlers was inher- 
ently one that could very easily give rise to conflict. 

We shall examine the built-in divisive factors in a moment, but 
first we would like to mention certain extraneous influences which 
helped to strengthen the atmosphere of opposition. In 1917 there 
took place an attempt to unionise Argentine agricultural workers 
in which some members of the governing body of Fondo 
Comunal, the big co-operative in Clara colony, were prominent. 
This incipient movement to organise the workers was soon 
crushed by a wave of arrests. The movement, or at least the 
participation of the Jewish co-operative leaders in it, had been 
inspired in part by the Russian Revolution, the course of which 
the colonists followed with great interest, and which kindled in 
some of them, socialists or children of socialists in Russia, primor- 
dial feelings of class war. In fact, as some of the colonists saw the 
antagonism between themselves and JCA, they were the proleta- 
riat, the providers of labour, while JCA was the provider of 
capital. As Judith Elkin, a leading student of Latin-American 
Jewry, puts it,^ 'To the settlers the JCA was the patron', the 
traditionally familiar Latin American figure who protected the 
farmers working for him but also exercised 'control over their 
lives. They left with an attitude of resentment against JCA that 
persists to this day.' An added irritant was the personality of the 
head of JCA's Buenos Aires office during and after the First 
World War, Isaac Starkmeth. A man of Russian origin, his rigidity 
and strict adherence to the letter of the law alienated even his 
principal subordinates. 

Notwithstanding the attempts to unionise the farm workers, 
and notwithstanding some settlers' Marxist ideology or the 
personality of the JCA director, the objective situation was such 
that conflict between JCA and the colonists was inevitable. When 
the colonies were first established JCA had been an all-providing 
foster parent, furnishing food, housing, land to be worked and 
the animals and implements for working it. That JCA, providing 
the colonists with the means of existence, stood to some extent 
in loco parentis was clearly recognised by the colonists themselves. 
In the history of the Fondo Comunal co-operative in Clara colony 
it is written: 

The new inhabitants encountered in the New World, 
especially in the first years, complete economic and social 
disorientation. . The logical result was that JCA supplied 
whatever was necessary: schools, synagogues, health 
institutions, credit, representation with the police and the 
government and all other necessities of social and cultural 



life. In this way the JCA administration concentrated in itself 
all the development of the social, cultural and economic Hfe 
of the colony/ 

So pervasive was the influence of JCA in the early years that the 
book goes on to say: 'it appeared quite natural that a couple 
desirous of getting married would approach the JCA administra- 
tion to inquire whether they possessed the constancy to make it 
sensible for them to enter into the marriage contract.' Indeed, 
JCA had more power over the lives and fate of the colonists than 
many a parent has over a grown child - certainly more over their 
economic lives. 

At least four perennial bones of contention should be 
mentioned, to list only the more important. These were the terms 
of the contract of sale of land to the colonists, the area to be 
allowed each colonist family, the allocation of farms to sons and 
sons-in-law, and the provision of credit. All these issues, except 
perhaps for that involving sons, were starkly economic. The price 
and the time at which a farmer could take title were obviously 
matters of the first importance, and control was in JCA's hands; 
likewise the acreage he could acquire; likewise the amount and 
terms of the credit he could obtain. No one facing an entity with 
power over such fundamental questions could feel comfortable in 
the situation, even if there were perfect harmony between the 
parties in attitude and expectation. Certainly when their aims and 
objects differed widely, as was the case, friction was bound to 
result. In addition to the economic conflict, Judith Elkin points 
to the issue of acculturation dividing the settlers from JCA. ^ JCA 
attached high priority to the matter of their integration, but the 
settlers themselves found little of value to integrate with. 

Argentina lacked the great nationalizing institutions - schools, 
adult education, especially, and a homogenizing industrial 
plant - that might have served to integrate the immigrants 
into national life. The absorption of immigrants was retarded 
by the absence of social structures with the capacity to 
integrate them into the intellectual, economic, or patriotic 
life of the republic. 

In 1917 JCA eased its terms for the transfer of their farms to the 
colonists by permitting those who had been on their farms for 
five years to start anticipating payments. In 1923 this provision 
was further liberalised: a five-year settler was now permitted to 
take title, subject to a mortgage to JCA, whereas previously an 
eight-year occupancy had been required. However, the so-called 
'moral' clauses of the contracts still remained - the requirements 



that the colonist till his land with his own and his family's labour, 
that he live on the property, and that he should not alienate any 
of it. The most irksome of the provisions was that which gave 
JCA the right, up to three years after the date of sale, to re- 
acquire property at the colonist's original purchase price. This 
was intended to enable JCA to rid a colony of an undesirable 
resident. Colonists complained bitterly that such a provision made 
it very difficult for them to sell, but in fact JCA does not seem 
to have made much, if any, use of this 'buy-back' right. 

With the value of the land having increased to some hundreds 
of pesos a hectare, while the contract, drawn up years before, set 
a price that had been deliberately fixed below the then market - 
perhaps 50 pesos a hectare - it would have taken a very strong 
character, committed to the point of self-abnegation to the ideal 
of maintaining a viable Jewish farm population in Argentina, to 
resist trying to take advantage of such a profitable margin. ^ So 
the colonists went to law to abrogate the contracts or tried to 
devise other stratagems to obtain the profit that a sale could bring 
long before the expiration of the contract. The courts, as the JCA 
staff noted with some bitterness, were inclined to disregard the 
'moral' clauses and pay heed only to evidence as to whether the 
monetary payments had been made. In this way, as we have seen, 
some of the colonists in Mauricio had been able to obtain title to 
their farms. This attitude of the courts made it difficult for JCA 
to win the many lawsuits it brought to expel farmers who had 
completely neglected to observe the provisions in question.' On 
the other hand, in 1921 and again in 1946, the Argentine legisla- 
ture enacted laws that might have been written to please JCA, 
for they were designed to encourage farmers to cultivate their soil 
with their own hands and not break up their patrimony. 

As time passed, the controversy over the form of contract 
tended to become less acute, as more and more colonists became 
emancipes, land-owners in fee simple, and thus free of JCA's 
restrictions. In 1922 so many colonists in Mauricio had attained 
this status that JCA withdrew its administrator from the colony. 
By 1934 almost exactly 50 per cent of the 3,144 colonists then on 
farms in Argentina had acquired ownership. This ratio grew with 
time: in 1948 it was 86 per cent of a total of 2,600 colonists. 

While the dispute over the contracts petered out in time, two 
other subjects of dissension - the proper area to be allotted to a 
colonist and the question of how JCA should treat the sons - 
continued to excite lively controversy. One factor that influenced 
the pressure for an enlargement of the holdings was the beginning 
of the shift from horses and oxen to motors as the source of 
motive and other kinds of power on the farm. The provision of 


3a Saskatchewan, Canada, 1919. Jewish farm workers 

3b Saskatchewan, Canada, 1919. Farm machinery purchased with JCA funds 

4a USSR, between the wars. Improved farming methods in the Jewish rural 
communities helped by JCA 

4b Ukraine, pre-1925. Loan kassa 


feed for draught animals had occupied no less than 25 per cent of 
the total farm area. Now a large area was being freed to produce 
crops for sale. This movement began in the 1920s in the older, 
better-off colonies like Moisesville but was not completed in the 
poorer, more remote colonies like Baron Hirsch until the 1950s. « 
A farmer who has invested thousands of dollars or pesos in buying 
a motor-driven harvester-thresher, for example, feels great 
inducement to spread this overhead expense over as large an 
acreage as possible. In any case the original grants of 150 hectares 
or so in certain marginal areas, hke colony Baron Hirsch, were 
simply too small to be economic. As late as 1960 the Jewish farms 
in this colony, though they ran to 245 hectares, were less than 
half the size of the average holding in the region.' Why JCA 
resisted the pressure for more acreage for so long - it acceded 
finally and officially in 1950 - is not clear. The reason put forward 
was that it had to maintain reserves of land for new immigrants 
(it retained about 250,000 hectares, most of it of poorer quality 
than the already settled areas). Perhaps JCA's attitude was inspired 
by the events of the Lowenthal era back in 1891, when at times 
it appeared that there would be insufficient space for a horde of 
arrivals. But this argument seemed specious in the 1930s, because 
after the First World War not many Jewish immigrants came to 
Argentina. In the 1920s there were 5,000-6,000 a year on average, 
and of these only a few hundred went to the settlements. By the 
1930s Jewish immigration was practically nil. 

JCA used the same argument - the need to maintain large 
reserves - in the unending quarrel over the question of allocations 
for sons. The Association also invoked other and better reasons 
on this issue, which seemed to come up at every meeting between 
staff and colonists. One was that JCA had been committed to 
rescuing Jews from Russia, and once the family had been settled in 
Argentina JCA had no further obligation. Second, in the populist 
political climate that prevailed in Argentina in the first quarter of 
the twentieth century, it was necessary to avoid making it appear 
that Jewish farmers were building up latifundia. Therefore, JCA 
made it a rule that at least 10 kilometres (later reduced to 5) must 
separate the sons' or sons-in-law's holdings from the fathers'. 
Many other conditions were originally imposed on the sons - 
that they be married, that there be other brothers remaining at 
home to help the fathers with the farm work - conditions that 
were softened or eliminated as time passed, until in 1950 they 
were dropped altogether. 

Even though JCA had a modicum of reason on its side, its 
stance in this matter seems indicative of a rather frozen attitude. 
A position had been taken early in the twentieth century that 



the colonists should not appear to be land-grabbers; and JCA 
maintained this position until the middle of the century, though 
by that time the settlers, or rather their children or grandchildren, 
had long been citizens of Argentina and were mature enough and 
knew the country well enough for it to be presumed that their 
judgment about Argentine reactions should be respected. Perhaps 
more strangely, JCA, in making the settlement of sons difficult, 
was putting obstacles in the way of reaching one of its chief 
objectives, the building up of a permanent Jewish farming class 
in Argentina. It was also flying in the face of reality. In the decade 
after 1918, 40 per cent of new installations (they averaged about 
sixty-five a year) were of sons and sons-in-law. In the period 
1930-5 they accounted for 50 per cent. 

The matter of credit was also a perennial subject of discussion 
and argument. This is not surprising, for if a farmer needs 
anything he needs to be able to borrow. Here JCA followed a 
judicious course of yea-and-nay, acceding to some requests and 
refusing those it considered unnecessary. However, in the too- 
frequent cases of natural disaster that afflicted the settlements it 
was invariably willing to extend a helping hand. For example, 
Montefiore colony suffered great hardship in the 1924—5 season 
when its crops were devastated by insect infestations and early 
frosts and many families left. JCA hastened to bring aid to those 
who stayed; it supplied each family with 10—12 cows, bulls, stallions 
and a complete set of equipment; the settlement's co-operative 
was reorganised with the help of the other Jewish co-operatives; 
and JCA made the renewed institution a sizeable advance. 

Just as helpful as JCA's readiness to extend credit was its 
willingness, not to say alacrity, to cancel debts when colonists 
were in difficulties and sometimes, indeed, even when they were 
not. We have seen that the amounts due from the settlers were 
reduced by 25 per cent at the time of the Baron's death in 1896. 
In 1914-15 Moisesville, the most firmly established of the 
colonies, was severely affected by floods, followed by intensely 
damaging locust infestations the following year. Many settlers 
left. In order to induce the remainder to stay, JCA sharply reduced 
their debts. Again, during the Great Depression of the 1930s JCA 
deferred the payment of debts and cancelled or reduced the interest 

The capability of granting, withholding or altering the terms 
of credit is tantamount to the power to permit a struggling group 
of farmers to breathe freely, inhale with difficulty, or not breathe 
at all. Thus JCA's generally lax poHcy in the matter of collection 
of debts made Hfe easier for the colonists. At times JCA had 
spasms of conscience and decided to tighten things up - or at 



least to update its records. It therefore resolved, in 1919, to have 
all its accounts paid up to date, but whether it took any further 
positive action is not clear. Some years later, in 1922, it made an 
effort to expel those colonists who had not made payments of at 
least 2,000 pesos or had neglected their annual obligations for a 
long time.i° 

On the whole, however, the colonists' requests for loans were 
turned down often enough for them to feel justified in complain- 
ing about the Association's severity. The history of Fondo 
Comunal'' contains a record of 40 years of requests for credit, 
most of which were not granted. By the 1920s the colonists 
individually and their co-operatives collectively were well enough 
established for JCA to be no longer their sole source of credit; 
they were able to borrow not only from the National Bank, but 
from local agricultural and other banks, some of which they 
themselves had helped to establish. 

Enough has been said to indicate that the relationship between 
JCA and the colonists was complex and ambiguous. If JCA was, 
especially for the early colonists, a surrogate parent, modern 
psychologists know that the feelings between many parents and 
children partake of the emotions of both love and hate - especially 
when the children are grown and begin to feel themselves individ- 
uals in their own right. Like many natural parents, JCA had a 
hard time appreciating that its 'children' had attained maturity. It 
could not recognise that the time of tutelage might be over.'^ 

One of the major objectives of the establishment of the Frater- 
nidad Agraria was to force JCA to accord the colonists proper 
respect by requiring it to consult with their representatives. Such 
an infringement of its liberty of action JCA would not tolerate, 
and when the first assembly of the Fraternidad was convened in 
Buenos Aires in 1925 the JCA directorate refused to meet its 
officers. In 1926 the JCA staff relented and did meet the farmers' 
delegates; but a year later it was the Fraternidad's turn to be angry 
and, far from meeting with JCA, it spent its 1927 convention 
denouncing the Association. These contentions may have been in 
part matters of personality rather than substance. Wortman's 
fervent socialism and Starkmeth's rigidity made an explosive 
mixture. JCA and the Fraternidad had no relationship to speak of 
until the Great Depression of the 1930s forced them to collaborate. 

The colonies, 1920-30, and the 'quintas' 

After the drop in prices incident to the world-wide commodity 
crash of 1919-21, Argentine agriculture recovered and enjoyed 



reasonable stability and even prosperity until the 1930s. The 
Jewish farmers shared in the general prosperity. There were then 
120,000 farmers in Argentina, of whom 3,100 (2.6 per cent) were 
Jewish. 1^ In Entre-Rios province, which Oungre claimed had been 
opened for agriculture by Jews, 1,390 out of 15,314 farmers, nearly 
10 per cent, were Jewish. (The number of Jews then in Argentina 
was 200,000, 2 per cent of the total population of 10 million.) 

The state of well-being that the Argentine farmers enjoyed in 
this period was due not only to better incomes but to the gradual 
introduction of the internal combustion engine. Not only did the 
technological system of the Jewish farmers change, but so did 
their life-style - and its acceptance by JCA. Pianos and good 
furniture no longer caused raised eyebrows. However, JCA was 
still concerned enough to record with disapproval that settlers 
coming from Bessarabia were free-spenders who used their 
income to support a relatively expensive mode of living, while 
the Russians were frugal and thrifty. 

The number of Jews in the farm areas increased somewhat in 
the first three post-war years. By 1922 there were 29,781 Jews 
living in the settlements, of whom about two-thirds consisted of 
colonist families. The number remained almost static through to 
1930 when it was 29,606. These figures, however, should not be 
interpreted as evidence of immobility. There was a continual drift 
out of the colonies, for the reasons we have cited and for one other 
- the often-remarked-on Jewish interest in advanced education. In 
1920 the JCA report noted that the younger generation who were 
sent to urban institutions to study tended not to return to the 
colonies, which offered a limited field of activity to an ambitious 
young man who wanted to be a lawyer, accountant or university 
teacher. But the exodus was balanced by an influx of about 500 
or 600 Jewish immigrants each year. 

In the 1920s another demographic tendency manifested itself 
which had grave portents for the future, particularly with refer- 
ence to the Baron's dream of a permanent large Jewish farming 
settlement in Argentina. At that time the number of non-Jewish 
inhabitants of the colonies became noticeable. In the ensuing 
decades more and more non-Jews drifted in while, as we shall 
see, the Jews tended to leave, so that by the 1950s non-Jews 
became the majority. Considering, on the one hand, the attrac- 
tions of city life, and, on the other, the almost complete cessation 
of Jewish immigration after 1930, this was hardly a surprising 

JCA had decided, as early as 1913, that it would not actively 
recruit new colonists but would accept those who came volun- 
tarily and who had some resources of their own to invest. In 



order to encourage such spontaneous settlement, what was called 
the quinta system was instituted. From newcomers who had 
gained some experience in farm work in Argentina, those who 
seemed most promising were selected and placed on quintas, i.e. 
comparatively small lots of 15-25 hectares. The idea was that the 
husband would derive income from working for colonists in the 
vicinity and produce, say, vegetables on his own land, while his 
wife and children would tend a poultry flock and help with the 
vegetables. The quinteros were provided with small houses, fenced 
lots, animals and implements. 

A great advantage of the quintas was that they were cheaper to 
establish than a conventional farm. Each year, beginning in 1923, 
50 or 60 quinteros were settled, and of these a number were chosen 
to be given the opportunity to become fully fledged colonists. 
These selections were made on the basis of a searching scrutiny 
on the part of the JCA staff, a scrutiny that did not cease when 
the quintero became a colonist. As late as 1935, even though 
maintenance of the Jewish farm population was becoming 
difficult, 18 colonist families (who may not have been quinteros) 
were expelled as 'bad elements, behind on their payments and not 
personally working their lots'. So, quinteros or not, those given 
the status of colonist remained under JCA's watchful eye. The 
quinta system appeared so promising that Louis Oungre, reporting 
on his inspection of the Argentine colonies in 1928, recommended 
that all new settlers start as quinteros. Unfortunately, not long 
thereafter, the steep decline in farm prices resulting from the Great 
Depression was under way, the deleterious effect of which on 
farmers' income in Argentina, as in North America, was inten- 
sified by many years of drought; in consequence, newcomers lost 
all ambition to become quinteros, and the settlers already on quintas 
neglected their lands, having to find other ways of making a 

Argentine government takes over the schools 

An important organisational change took place in the periods just 
before and after the First World War. It has been noted how 
concerned JCA was with the education of the children of its 
colonists. By 1914 there was a well developed network of about 
100 schools in the colonies, the curricula and standards of which 
were supervised by JCA. However, an education law had been 
passed which made it impossible for a private school system 
like JCA's to continue. The Association therefore decided on the 
generous gesture of transferring its schools and their quite elab- 



orate appurtenances, without any charge, to the national Ministry 
of Education. These appurtenances included notably the many 
houses for teachers that JCA had built in order to induce them to 
come and stay in the comparatively remote rural provinces. The 
only compensation JCA asked and received was that the school 
buildings be available for religious instruction at the end of the 
regular sessions. The transfer of the buildings was effected in 
stages and was largely completed by 1919, though a few schools 
remained with JCA until 1923. In that year about 7,000 pupils 
were receiving post-school religious instruction. 

JCA's and the colonists' expenditure may have been reduced 
by the government's take-over of the schools in the settlements, 
but not for long; the Education Ministry, it soon appeared, was 
neglecting maintenance. JCA found it necessary to protest to 
the Ministry regarding the condition of the buildings, but the 
Association was more concerned about this matter than the Mini- 
stry, for in 1924 the former agreed to spend 105,000 pesos on 
repairs, and there is no record that the government paid anything. 
The JCA Council further agreed that in subsequent years it would 
appropriate annually enough money to cover one-third of the 
costs of necessary repairs. 

JCA continued to maintain its interest in the religious instruc- 
tion it had initiated for the Jewish residents of Buenos Aires and 
other cities. In 1925 it provided eighty-seven such courses 
attended by 3,815 pupils. Later, when JCA began to feel the pinch 
of the Depression on its income, it decided to ask the Argentine 
Jews who were benefiting to pay the costs themselves. It was 
found that they were well able to do this, so that by 1930 JCA's 
contributions for this purpose could be reduced to almost nil.''' 

Oungre's Report - and Aronstein's 

In 1928 Louis Oungre, the redoubtable Director-General of JCA, 
paid a long visit to Argentina, spending time at every colony 
and, as was his custom, writing afterwards a comprehensive, 
confidential report for the Council. On the whole, Oungre was 
pleased with what he saw. He had to admit that the question of 
the settlement of sons was controversial, but he felt that JCA's 
position on this issue and on the issues of settler participation in 
decisions and on contracts was well taken, though he did let sHp 
his impression that JCA's stance was perhaps a little too rigid. In 
1934-5 Georges Aronstein, a sub-director in the Paris office, paid 
an equally long visit to Argentina and wrote an even longer 
report. While Aronstein also wrote elegantly, his style was not 



SO pithy as Oungre's. The important difference between these 
reports, however, was in the substance, not the style. While 
Aronstein covered much the same ground - the seemingly eternal 
questions of land for the sons, the status of the contracts, the 
position of the quinteros - the real issue that concerned him was 
the 'stagnation' of the colonies, an expression that, despite his 
tendency to circumlocution, he used plainly and openly. 

The difference between these two reporters was partly a differ- 
ence in time; Oungre's visit took place after a period of general 
prosperity, Aronstein's took place six years later, years marked 
by the deepest depression in capitalist history, which in Argentina 
had been aggravated by drought and insect infestation. By the 
end of Aronstein's visit a small measure of recovery had been felt 
in Argentine agriculture, but in essence his overview was bleak. 

The co-operatives, which JC A never forbore to praise notwith- 
standing their bitter criticisms of their surrogate parent, and which 
Oungre in the main found to be prospering, were declared by 
Aronstein to be on the edge of bankruptcy. Some of the smaller 
ones indeed had already gone over the brink, but had been reor- 
ganised and set going again by JCA. Even the strongest of them, 
reported Aronstein - those at Moisesville (Mutua Agricola) and 
Clara (Fondo Comunal) - were technically bankrupt, but because 
their largest creditor was the National Bank, which was lenient 
for political reasons, they were permitted to continue operations. 
The reason for this general collapse was that during the years of 
prosperity the co-operatives had been willing to extend credit 
freely to the farmers, without any provision for amortisation; 
now that hard times had come, the co-operatives' assets consisted 
of the farmers' paper, which with the decline of prices to fractions 
of their pre-Depression levels was worthless. The Fondo 
Comunal had been bold enough - it was the only co-operative 
to do so - to build a huge grain elevator that dominated the level 
landscape. When this structure was completed, however, the co- 
operative was unable to pay for it; but because the builder, who 
remained the owner, had no alternative use for it, Fondo Comunal 
was able to rent it for a very reasonable fee. JCA was forced into 
the position of taking possession of the grain delivered to the co- 
operatives by their members, so that the produce could not be 
seized by the creditors, and the farmers were thus deprived of 
what little they had earned for their labour in those parlous years. 

JCA, in collaboration with its former enemy, the Fraternidad, 
strove to preserve the co-operative structure because of its import- 
ance to the colonists. Not only did the co-operatives provide a 
sales outlet for the farmers that was in their own control; but on 
the buying side, where the colonists had been pretty well at the 



mercy of such traders as happened to be in the neighbourhood, 
the co-operatives provided competition which lowered the cost 
of seed, barbed wire, farm equipment, etc. They also tried to 
upgrade the farmers' livestock by supplying them with superior 
animals. They were largely responsible for social and cultural 
events, such as lectures, concerts and dramatic performances. In 
addition, they provided advocacy for the colonists in confronta- 
tions with banks, civil authorities and, not least, JCA. Oungre 
summed up the situation in somewhat flowery terms. The co- 
operatives, he said, are i'emanation des colonies, leur representa- 
tion, leur protection, leur banque' '^ 

As for the quintas in which Oungre had placed such high hopes 
for the future growth of the colonies, Aronstein reported that in 
the years since 1931 they had not increased, that the hundred or 
so that still existed in 1934 were utterly uncared for, being used 
not for farming but as suburban residences by their holders, who, 
if they were lucky, had been able to resort to their previous 
occupations, for example shoemaking. Aronstein noted with 
regret that only a handful of Germans had gone to the settlements 
(Hitler had been in power for two years when Aronstein wrote). 
However willing they might be, he declared, the essentially 
urbanised German Jews were just not fit for the rough and isolated 
life of the pampas. In making this observation, he was somewhat 
hasty. As we shall see, two or three years later some hundreds of 
families from Germany were settled in the colonies. 

Immigration situation 

Aronstein's report sounds a distinct and unmistakable note of 
melancholy and resignation. Oungre used the word 'stagnation', 
but Aronstein really meant it. He suggested various schemes to 
revive the colonies, but his proposals had httle force or conviction. 
The great lack was new settlers. In part this was due to the general 
paucity of Jewish newcomers in the country. Except for the 
outstanding year of 1923, when 12,000 arrived, Jewish immi- 
gration ran below the figures for the pre-First World War period. 
This was at a time when there were more than 100,000 homeless 
Jewish refugees from Russia spread over the European continent 
and whom the Jewish migration agencies were most anxious to 
place somewhere, anywhere, overseas. This also was a time when 
Pohsh Jews, 3 milHon strong, were eager to leave that country 
which, itself freed from the oppression of the Russian Czars, 
nevertheless fastened the bonds of anti-Semitism tighter and 
tighter around its hated minority. The Pohsh Sejm, if it could do 



little else, could always pass a law making it harder for Jewish 
inn-keepers, liquor-dealers or artisans to carry on business, and 
easier for Polish co-operative organisations to compete with 
Jewish retailers. Polish Jews did go to Palestine in tens of thous- 
ands, and would have gone to the United States but for the 
restrictive American immigration laws passed in 1924; but they 
did not go to Argentina. 

JCA was inclined to blame adverse publicity about the settle- 
ments in the Jewish press and the high cost of the ocean voyage 
from Europe to South America. These explanations do not seem 
to be adequate; bad reports about the settlements should not have 
deterred emigrants from going to Argentina's cities, where the 
bulk of the country's Jewish population was located and, in 
general, doing well. JCA's reports, even when, like Aronstein's, 
they may have been less than enthusiastic about the state of agri- 
culture, did not fail to point out how many of the descendants 
of the early arrivals were doctors, lawyers or university profes- 
sors, or active in many businesses, such as the export of grain, 
the retailing of jewellery, cloth, furniture or motor car accessories. 
Nor could the Argentine Jewish community be blamed. In 1923, 
with JCA's help, it set up Soprotimis, an acronym for an organis- 
ation devoted to helping newcomers by, among other things, 
providing guidance and shelter, legal help, vocational training 
and instruction in Spanish. 

The reasons for the comparative paucity of Jewish immigration 
must be sought elsewhere, and in truth lie with the Argentine 
government. 'The Russian Revolution [of 1917] increased the 
government's fear of similar revolutionary activity in Argentina. 
Since the Jews were generally identified as "Russians", anti-revol- 
utionary fervour developed into overt anti-Semitism.''^ There was 
an outbreak of extreme violence and pillage against the Jews in 
Buenos Aires in January 1919, following on a general strike which 
the authorities had portrayed as a Bolshevik revolution during 
which a Jewish 'dictator-president' would attempt to seize control 
of the country. It was not surprising that a regime that lent 
itself to such nonsense would create administrative difficulties for 
Jewish immigrants in subsequent years. After 1930, when power 
had passed into the hands of reactionaries as the result of a coup, 
the new government put into force severe limitations on immi- 
gration, allowing in only 'authentic' farmers and close relatives 
of citizens. In this respect it followed the same line as Canada and 
Brazil during the Depression. Barriers were put up just when ease 
of access was most needed, on the eve of Hitler's coming to 
power. JCA, which was accepted as a certifying agent for farming 
immigrants, was especially careful as to whom it certified, because 



it needed to retain this status in order to help such Jews as were 
in this category. 

Thus, Jewish immigration fell to less than 2,000 annually in the 
first half of the 1930s; immigration, to which Aronstein had 
looked to invigorate the colonies, was a hope that was destroyed 
almost as soon as it was uttered. Indeed, in 1934, coincident with 
his report, the Jewish population in the colonies showed a decline. 
We have seen that in 1930 the figure was 29,606; by 1934 it had 
fallen to 25,796, but it recovered somewhat to 26,110 in 1937, 
the last year before the Second World War for which a record is 
available. Despite the multitude of Jewish organisations offering 
entertainment and culture by way of films and lectures, and the 
many others that gave the farmers the opportunity to use their 
time for good works or religious practices, the social pull of urban 
centres and the economic pull of urban incomes, at which JCA 
had so often looked askance, were too strong, and the farm 
population began to drift away. 

Also, it must be confessed that JCA's figures of the Jewish 
farm population were somewhat inflated. It counted among the 
colonists all the emancipes; and an emancipe family, especially after 
the three-year 'buy-back' period had ended, was free to live 
anywhere. When there were only a few such families, just after 
the First World War, this statistical practice did not mean very 
much, but by 1937, about half the colonists had achieved their 
independence. We know that 40-45 per cent of the emancipes had 
left the farms during the 1930s, so that by the end of the decade 
JCA was including in its figures some thousands of settlers who 
had moved away. 

Aronstein in 1934-5 could not name more than three families 
living in the colonies who had come from Germany. Fortunately, 
with the passage of time JCA was able to enlarge this utterly 
neghgible figure. It prepared a new colony, Avigdor, in the 
province of Entre-Rios, for the reception of German immigrants, 
though by no means all such newcomers went there. To make 
sure that they would know what to expect, JCA had one member 
of the family come to Argentina and spend at first a year (later 
only three months) on a colonist's farm, learning about life and 
work in that miHeu. JCA also gave candidates agricultural train- 
ing, both in Argentina and in Germany. Twenty-two German 
families were placed in 1936 and 77 more in 1937. Altogether, 
430 families from Germany were placed in the colonies during 
the Nazi period. '^ Not a large number, considering the circum- 
stances, but the beginning at least of a measurable movement. 



Into the war years 

In the years that followed, up to the outbreak of the Second 
World War, there was no basic change in the position of the JCA 
colonies. There was virtually no immigration. The old issues 
persisted - of JCA versus the Fraternidad; of the co-operatives 
and the settlers trying to secure more loans from JCA and on 
better terms; of what to do about sons who wanted to become 
farmers. These conflicts did, however, ease considerably, perhaps 
because both parties were tired of them and because they had 
found co-operation possible during the dark Depression years. 
JCA in fact showed itself more willing to accept the farmers' 
viewpoint, a tendency that culminated in the London Conference 
of 1950 which will be described in a later chapter. In the mean- 
time, the Association acted to conciliate the colonists by reducing 
or cancelling large portions of their debts to it. In 1-935 interest 
charges were reduced, as also were land prices to buyers who 
would pay cash immediately on transfer of title. 

The new settlement of Avigdor, which at one time had housed 
more than 400 families of German refugees, had by 1940 only 
119 remaining. In common with all JCA settlers on new lands, 
those in Avigdor were plagued by locusts and poor weather 
conditions. However, with typical German discipline they 
worked hard to make a start, helped by JCA instruction. Not 
only did they carry out their farming tasks but they installed all 
the facilities that an isolated village would need - a synagogue, a 
school, a library, a social hall, a co-operative, even a fortnightly 
periodical; they organised an orchestra, dramatics and sports. But 
these activities were not able to restrain a terrible quarrelsomeness 
which afflicted the colony and necessitated the establishment of 
an arbitration council to decide on the location and division of 
water from the wells, property lines, etc. Even more disturbing, 
as far as JCA was concerned, was the pull of opportunity to do 
technical or professional work elsewhere; this caused a further 
decline in the population, which by 1945 had fallen to 104 

JCA for its part, after the war began, continued its policy of 
leniency to its farmer-debtors. For the period April 1941-March 
1943 it reduced the interest charge to 3 per cent and cancelled all 
interest in the case of colonies founded after 1 January 1936 - 
which meant Avigdor principally. It also extended to eleven years 
from eight the period allowed a settler to repay his installation 
costs, with the first three years free of interest. All these conces- 
sions were intended to make it easier for the settlers to become 



owners. And indeed, by 1941 half of the 3435 JCA farmers (who 
with their families totalled 17,415 people) had title. '^ 

As the old problems began to recede, the JCA management was 
increasingly concerned with the tendency of the Jewish farmers 
to leave agriculture and occupy themselves in business or the 
professions. From the perspective of the 1980s, it is easy to say 
that this movement was only natural, as agriculture became more 
highly mechanised and fewer people were needed to maintain or 
even exceed the previous level of output. If the worried staff of 
JCA had cast their eyes to the north they might have found some 
consolation. In the United States the farm population reached its 
highest level in 1910, when there were over 30 million people, a 
third of the country's population, earning their livelihood chiefly 
from the soil. Since then there has been a continuous decline, 
until today when there are perhaps 2 million farmers and their 
families living on the land in the United States. Yet, as is well 
known, the output of American agriculture has increased enor- 
mously even as the number of producers has declined. But the 
JCA management, believing firmly in the importance of the exist- 
ence of a Jewish farming class, could only deplore its decline 
within the Jewish population of Argentina. 

All JCA's yieldings and favours were of little ultimate effect, 
as Jews continued to leave the farms; and this was a trend that 
JCA could hardly expect to reverse. As Judith Elkin puts it, the 
Jewish farm movement was romantic — 'Jewish farmers were 
bringing to a close the epoch of belief in the possibility of auto- 
emancipation through self-labour.'-" 


POLAND •Warsaw P'"sl<» 

• Homel 

• Prague-^..^ S, « Cracow 

C^ Brunn y qALICIA '"''"^•^.J. 

V *C^»^ • ^ Tarnopol* 

"v^ • Piotrkov 
~\ •Czestochowa 


,■■ Zhitomir 0Kiev .lOS 
• Berdichev 

'Ho^* '^- Tarnopol--. 

'" ■■--'^0^4 J^"'^""^ - . StanisTavoj^', Kamenetz 

J Vienna '•) 


N> Mohilev 

^,.— ■■-■■ v..Czernovitz'' •soroki 

^■•''bUKOVINA -J^^l^y* #kishinev 
^. ...--( HUNGARY ^TRANSYLVANIA %^^ - . ^^^^^^^^ 

^\ \,^. -->,-'' ROMANIA '''''^(V ^'M^ 

^■' ^ Bucharest • 
YUGOSLAVIA (? . \.. 



p 4 Eastern Europe between the wars 


The Situation in Russia 

Russia in 1920-1 

By 1921 the various attempts to overthrow the Bolshevik govern- 
ment had been suppressed, and the war between Poland and 
Russia was over. When peace was made, it left the borders more 
or less as they had been defined by the Treaties of Brest-Litovsk 
and Versailles. A measure of order had been restored to Russia, 
but to a Russia reduced from its 1914 limits, for on its western 
border there was a whole set of new countries - Finland, Esthonia, 
Latvia, Lithuania and Poland - which had been carved principally 
out of what had been the czarist empire; also, Bessarabia, formerly 
Russia's southwesterly province, with a population of 800,000 
Jews, was now part of Romania. In the Ukraine and White Russia, 
the principal areas of Jewish habitation, the destruction and devas- 
tation wrought by the war had been great, but the brutal civil wars 
that followed brought even more death and damage, especially to 
the Jews, who were marked out as special victims by many of 
the right-wing 'armies' - or, as a large proportion of these were 
in fact, roving bands of raiders and pogromists. No less than 
1,520 pogroms were counted in the period 1918-20, in which, 
out of about 3 million Jews, some 200,000 were killed and 300,000 
orphaned. The most tragic victims of the civil war were these 
lost and abandoned children, the bezprizonie, great numbers of 
whom wandered the roads and byways of south Russia, stealing 
and scavenging what they could. 

By 1921 however there was one development that held out 
some hope for the future. Over this scene of death and devastation 
there was one unquestioned ruler - the Bolshevik government, 
headed by Lenin in Moscow, which was able to impose a very 
considerable measure of authority and order. Once this was 
accompHshed, one of the government's chief tasks was to accumu- 
late a supply of foreign exchange so that goods could be purchased 
from the outside world. In pre-war czarist times wheat had been 
Russia's premier export and the principal source of foreign ex- 
change. Now the government would have to revive wheat 



exports or devise other methods of acquiring valuta, foreign 
money. It was this problem and its attempted solution that 
involved the Jewish agencies: ORT; the American Jewish Joint 
Distribution Committee (JDC), a new giant in the field which 
was created in 1916; and the old giant, JCA, which was now 
somewhat overshadowed by its rich New World colleague. 

ORT and JCA 

ORT was founded in 1880 with the name Obshchestvo Raspros- 
traneniya Truda sredi Yevreyev, meaning Society for the Promotion 
of Trades and Agriculture among Jews. (The initials were later 
adapted in English to stand for Organisation for Rehabilitation 
through Training.) It was one Jewish organisation that seemed to 
have been able to keep at least a skeleton staff in existence in 
Russia throughout the First World War. Perhaps this was because 
it was an indigenous agency, with its activities confined to Russia 
(until 1921, when World ORT Union was established in Berlin). 
One of ORT's founding fathers, Leon Bramson, was prominent 
enough in Russia's Jewish community to be selected as one of the 
members of JCA's St Petersburg Committee under Baron de 
Guenzburg. The two organisations were obviously well-known 
to each other - and still are. ^ 

ORT in 1921 called the attention of JCA to the terrible phght 
of the Jews in southern Russia. Here, it will be remembered, at 
the beginning of the nineteenth century, Jewish farm colonies had 
been set up. By the end of the century, these colonies were in 
poor shape because of antiquated methods of cultivation, a lack 
of capital and the inability to acquire more land. In 1916 there 
had been 39,000 Jewish colonists, according to JCA's count. This 
figure had been reduced by 40 per cent at the height of the post- 
war troubles, and then had recovered somewhat to 29,500 by 
1922. But the colonists were in terrible straits, for many had sold 
off or slaughtered their cattle and draft animals in order to survive 
- that is, those who were lucky: the unlucky ones had lost their 
animals, if not their hves, to the Red or White bandits who 
ravaged the countryside. And if some of them did have animals 
for ploughing, they had no seed to plant. So as a first step, in 
1921, through the mediation of ORT, JCA managed to get some 
seed to them. 

In the next year, conditions were more settled. More important, 
this was the year when Lenin took a giant step backward, institut- 
ing the New Economic Policy (NEP), under which individual 
small entrepreneurs were allowed a certain measure of freedom, 



albeit under close supervision. (Some observers thought the NEP 
marked the beginning of the end of Communism.) JCA was now 
prepared to mount a comprehensive effort. A veteran member of 
the pre-war staff, A. Sachs, was put in charge, and he obtained 
permission from the authorities to open an office in Kiev, capital 
of the Ukraine, from which to set up a full programme. This was 
to include work with the Jewish farmers in the old colonies, the 
establishment of loan kassas to lend money to artisans and koustars 
(artisans who worked from their homes), and assistance in build- 
ing up vocational schools in southern and western Russia. JCA 
also again sent some seed grain into the country, through the 
intermediary of the Nansen Committee, an international aid 
organisation operating under the aegis of the League of Nations. 

By 1923 and 1924 JCA's programme was in full swing. The 
major efforts were devoted to helping the inhabitants of the old 
farm colonies, who by 1924 had built their number up to nearly 
37,000, not far below the pre-war total, as some old members 
returned and new ones joined. Only 20 per cent of the newcomers 
had been farmers; the rest had been artisans or petty traders. 
Eighteen new co-operatives were created to serve the 36 farm 
colonies in the gubeniias (governments) of Kiev and Ekaterinoslav, 
in the Ukraine. JCA employed agronomists to instruct the farmers 
in modern methods, and through the co-operatives provided 
money for the purchase of seed, implements, forage, horses and 
cattle. It also encouraged the farmers to set up cheese factories, 
and helped finance no less than twenty-two of these. Vocational 
schools were started in the White Russian cities of Minsk, Homel, 
Mohilev and Vitebsk, often with the participation of JDC. The 
kassa system, which had been liquidated, was reinstituted through 
the efforts of JCA's old staff, and 120 kassas were initiated or 
reactivated. They would not have been able to get started without 
outside aid because the poverty-stricken Jewish population had 
absolutely no money to deposit; it was JCA and JDC (which had 
operated in Russia in 1921 under the wing of Herbert Hoover's 
Relief Administration) that together furnished the initial capital. 
By 1924 the Ukraine State Bank had also provided some funds; 
and JCA's share in the assets of these institutions had fallen to 20 
per cent and JDC's to 12 per cent. By then JCA had had contact 
with 159 kassas and had made loans to 107; these had an average 
membership of nearly 400, so that the kassas receiving this help 
represented about 40,000 families. 

By 1925 JCA had in three short years built up a considerable 
operation in Russia, especially m the Ukraine. It was helping 
the farmers through the medium of 23 co-operatives with 8,500 
members; it was making more effective the teaching methods in 



17 vocational schools with some 2,000 pupils; and it was assisting 
over 100 kassas which were buying and seUing for their members 
as well as lending them money. But as the government and state 
banks increased their contributions to the kassas' capital, JCA's 
and JDC's participation declined. 

At this juncture JCA decided to send A. Schmoll of its Paris 
staff to make a survey of its operations in the USSR. Schmoll 
went to Moscow, where JCA had now established its Russian 
headquarters, and then travelled through the Ukraine and White 
Russia, the field of JCA's operations. He was very pleased with 
what he saw. Though mindful of the terrible recent past, he 
felt that under the Bolshevik regime anti-Semitism would never 
return, and as further evidence of his confidence in the future he 
stated his conviction that JCA would be repaid the money it had 
lent the kassas and co-operatives, and moreover that it would be 
able to repatriate the money. 2 He noted that the currency was 
stable, more important that the government was efficient, and 
that the Jews were able to function reasonably well under the 

In his survey of the vocational schools, Schmoll was delighted 
to discover that many staff members were the old teachers who 
had survived the war, and that Yiddish was the language of 
instruction. The directors were usually young Communists but 
they did not, Schmoll noted optimistically, interfere too much 
with operations. The chief trades taught were those of electrical 
installation, metalworking, construction work and carpentry. 
JDC had supplied the equipment, while JCA had financed 'special 
instruction', which meant teaching in Yiddish. Schmoll recom- 
mended that the JCA subventions continue, in order to promote 
instruction in Yiddish; otherwise non-Jewish peasants would get 
preference in admission. 

JCA had helped the Jewish farmers in Ekaterinoslav and 
Kherson gubemias before 1914; now, after they had been ruined 
by the war and lost all their animals, the Association was assisting 
them to make a fresh start, adding something new - creameries, 
which numbered 24. Thirty-six colonies with 37,000 inhabitants 
were now recipients of JCA and JDC advances; these had been 
made through the agricultural co-operatives, 38 per cent of whose 
assets came from JCA, 22 per cent from JDC. The co-operatives, 
like the loan kassas in the towns, also provided medical services. 

As regards the loan kassas, one of the main branches of JCA 
and JDC activity in Russia, Schmoll reported that 231 were regis- 
tered, of which 114 had received JCA credits. JCA's proportion 
of their capital by now was down to 11 per cent and JDC's to 5 
per cent. The kassas served individual artisans, collectives of arti- 



sans and petty merchants. Their loans totalled 1,750,000 roubles 
(about £175,000) but were limited to 100 roubles (£10) per 
borrower, a limit that Scholl thought was too restrictive. 

JDC and Agro-Joint^ 

Schmoll of course saw something of what the American JDC had 
been doing in the USSR - which was a great deal. When the 
American ReHef Administration ceased working in Russia in 1921, 
JDC made it clear that it was planning an expanded programme 
there. It sent out Dr Joseph Rosen, a well-known agronomist 
who was born in Russia. Rosen had been educated in the United 
States, where he had made a considerable reputation by develop- 
ing 'Rosen Rye', a quickly ripening variety of rye that could be 
harvested in cold climates before the frosts set in. Rosen arranged 
the importation of seed corn and, more important for the 
Russians, tractors. 

Rosen felt that the NEP would give Jews a chance to improve 
their economic status, not in the villages and little towns, but by 
transplanting themselves to farms. The dreams that had inspired 
the Baron de Hirsch and many others in the nineteenth century 
obviously still endured in the twentieth. But more than a dream 
inspired Rosen. Hundreds of thousands of Jews who had been 
peddlers or petty traders, or who had no defined occupation 
{lufimenschen — living on 'thin air') under the old regime, were 
now classed as lishentsy - 'declassed', without status - which also 
meant that they were deprived of civil rights, such as the right 
to sue, the right to vote and the right of their children to an 
education. Making farmers out of them would not only give 
them an occupation whereby they could earn their daily bread, 
but would also allow them to reacquire their civil status. 

Not only was JDC eager to do something for the lishentsy and 
other poor Jews; but the Soviet government was eager for foreign 
goods, like the tractors that JDC could bring in, and for increased 
food supphes, which the Jewish farmers could produce. A 
marriage between JDC and the Soviet government therefore 
seemed made m Heaven, and it was consummated in 1924, the 
parties to the ceremony being the American Jewish Joint Agricul- 
tural Corporation (Agro-Joint), formed by JDC in 1924 with 
Rosen as President, and Comzet, the government-sponsored 
'Committee for the Settlement of Jews on the Land'. 

Many people of Zionist persuasion firmly believed that JDC 
was merely bent upon showing the world Jewish community that 
it was helping poor Jews, even though it was not doing it in 



Palestine. It is true that many of JDC's leading spirits were 
strongly opposed to Zionism, including Julius Rosenwald, who 
became a major contributor to the Agro-Joint scheme. Maurice 
Hexter, who knew many of the donors well, asserts, however, 
that they were moved only by a desire to help the Russian Jews 
where they lived. Even some of the pro-Zionists in the early 
1920s were certain that Palestine could not absorb great masses 
of Russian Jews, whom in any case the Soviet regime was not 
going to release. "• 

A factor that made raising money for the venture relatively 
easy was the charismatic personality of Dr Rosen. A sum of $8 
million was pledged from private sources, chiefly by Mr Rosen- 
wald. With great enthusiasm, Agro-Joint attacked the task of 
settling Jews on land provided by the government in the Ukraine 
and the Crimea, and in the years between 1924 and 1928 settled 
5,646 families thereon. In addition, JDC spent $1,760,000 in 
Russia during 1923-33 on other activities, including the financing 
of loan kassas, the supply of equipment for vocational schools 
and the provision of medical aid and child care. 

When the arrangement was first made between Agro-Joint and 
Comzet, JCA was asked to join it, but the Association was gener- 
ally more cautious than its brash young American cousin. 
(Schmoll had urged that JCA personnel in the field be empowered 
to make decisions on expenditure their own responsibility, as the 
JDC staff had authority to do, and not be required to refer all 
questions to Paris Headquarters.) So JCA held back, maybe 
because it had premonitions of a darker future; but it did embark 
on a programme similar to that of Agro-Joint, though on a smaller 

Before looking at that programme we should say something 
about the activity of ORT, the third international Jewish agency 
at work in Russia. Its contribution was smaller than that of the 
others, but still significant for the welfare of the Jews in the 
Ukraine and White Russia. ORT set up some new farm settle- 
ments in 1921, and then came to an agreement with the Soviet 
authorities to spend $5,000 a month in the USSR, carrying this 
out by providing seed and equipment to the colonies. In 1923 
ORT sent in $100,000 worth of goods (half of this money was 
actually supplied by JDC) and also gave assistance to twenty-nine 
vocational schools, a form of activity that declined later. A new 
agreement was concluded for ORT to expend $75,000 in the year 
1925-6 to help support Jews in agriculture, and also, in 1928, to 
import machinery for artisans. ORT supplied instructors in the 
use of this machinery and thereby helped some Jews to get out 
of the lishentsy class;5 the organisation also supported evening 



vocational courses and made grants for instructional equipment 
and libraries. 

JCA's new settlements 

In 1926 JCA continued its activities along the lines previously 
followed. Aid to vocational schools was reduced somewhat as 
local institutions and the government increased their participation. 
Metalworkers were still the principal category of students, 
accounting for about 60 per cent of the total of nearly 2,000. 
Builders and woodworkers accounted for 10 per cent each. JCA's 
financing of loan kassas was also reduced, though, as before, 
emphasis was placed on aid to smaller, out-of-the-way establish- 
ments: 135 kassas reported to JCA, which had furnished 76 per 
cent of their capital; loans averaged 100-120 roubles - £10-£12. 

The population of the old farm colonies had grown to 35,000. 
JCA arranged for a good deal of equipment to be imported and 
advanced 40 per cent of the cost. One new feature was the intro- 
duction of a number of cattle-breeding stations, for which JCA 
loans provided 90 per cent of the funds required. As before, the 
Association was not only a source of funds but also supplied 
instruction and advice on methods of operation through its five 

The notable innovation of the year 1926, however, was an 
agreement between JCA and Comzet whereby land in the Ekateri- 
noslav^ gnhemia in the Ukraine, in the vicinity of two villages, 
Goulay-Pole and Nikopol, was to be put at the disposal of JCA, 
which was to finance the settlement of new farmers thereon. 
These new settlers, who had some modest - very modest - means 
of their own, were chosen by Comzet and numbered 254 families. 
They came from various districts in the Ukraine, many from 
Kamenetz-Podolsk. Having been chiefly artisans or petty 
tradesmen, they were completely lacking in agricultural experi- 
ence. JCA provided equipment for them, including six tractors 
which were shared, as these new farmers had formed collectives. 

In 1927 the new settlement work of JCA made greater headway; 
570 famihes were settled, more than double the previous year's 
figure. The majority were able to contribute a horse, or even a 
horse and cart, to the venture, but about a third of the newcomers 
were virtually penniless. In every case JCA furnished sufficient 
equipment to get an agricultural undertaking started. The area 
assigned for JCA-assisted settlements was 24,000 hectares (about 
60,000 acres), each family on average receiving I6V2 hectares. 
JCA gave each settler a credit of 500 roubles towards the construc- 



tion of a house, and the famihes did much of the building work 
themselves. By the end of 1927, 92 per cent of the houses for the 
1926 group and 68 per cent of those for the 1927 group were 
completed. One of the first tasks was to clear the soil, and this 
was done largely by the tractors supplied by JCA which now 
numbered about 16. Most of the land cleared was put to wheat. 
Satisfied with what it had done, as presumably also were the 
Russian authorities, JCA agreed to take in hand another 1,800 or 
1,900 families in the Nikopol area. 

Besides its labours in getting the new families established, JCA 
continued its work in the old colonies, the population of which 
seems to have stabilised at about 35,000 (7,607 families). As 
before, JCA financed the acquisition of animals, equipment and 
houses, helped the cheese factories and encouraged the establish- 
ment of a new industry - grape-growing for wine. 

The next year, 1928, was one of maximum effort by JCA to 
settle new farmers. About 2,400 families were established, many 
more than had been promised. This had strained JCA's human as 
well as financial resources, for its staff was reduced to three 
agronomists and one instructor who gave lectures on agriculture. 
In addition to supplying animals and equipment, JCA saw to it 
that schools and communal facilities were built. 

The Association's support of the vocational school system had 
by now dwindled to ten schools, where as usual it provided for 
teaching in Yiddish and where JDC supplied electrical equipment 
imported from America. These ten schools, three of them in 
Odessa, had 1,600 pupils, of whom two-thirds were classed as 
locksmiths (which really meant metalworkers), electricians and 
woodworkers. By 1929 the number of vocational schools sup- 
ported by JCA was down to nine; in fact, all foreign agencies' 
participation in financing them was reduced. JCA's share was 5 
per cent, JDC's 3 per cent and ORT's a mere 0.2 per cent. 

The number of kassas connected with JCA in 1927 was 185, 
with 86,518 members, out of a total of 330 functioning. In the 
next year JCA was concerned with 196 kassas, which had deposits 
of 2 million roubles. (This is in interesting contrast to 1914, when 
JCA was involved with 300 kassas in the same area with deposits 
of 15 million roubles.) In 1929 the kassas made no fewer than 
168,460 loans. The koustars, the self-employed artisans, who were 
among their most important borrowers, had begun to join artels, 
or producers' co-operatives. ^ Artels as such became borrowers 
from the kassas, but if their members were to be counted separ- 
ately as belonging to the kassas they brought the total to 90,000 
individuals. In addition to making loans, the kassas acted as buyers 



and sellers for their members, who were mostly shoemakers, 
hatmakers and tailors. 

Suddenly, in the midst of all this encouraging activity, some- 
thing happened: something ominous and, one could say, quite 
typical of the Soviet regime. The lending operations of the kassas 
were abruptly ended on 1 October 1929. No explanation was 
given, no justification -just a decree. 

It may be that at some time in the future, when the Soviet 
archives are opened for public inspection, an antiquarian interested 
in the history of the vanished Jewish farm settlements in southern 
Russia during the third decade of the twentieth century may 
unearth the rationale for this action. Rather than wait for this 
most unlikely and certainly far-off event, we might attempt to 
speculate as to its motivation. While JDC and JCA were busily 
engaged in placing Jews on farms, the NEP period with its 
comparative freedom for small entrepreneurs had come to an end 
in 1927, and the first five-year plan, for 1927-32, was instituted, 
with its strict control imposed over all forms of economic activity. 
There was no place in the Plan for the independent Jewish tailor 
or shoemaker: for him it was back to the ranks of the lishentsy - 
cold comfort indeed. 

So sudden and wrenching a change in the economic climate 
could not but have a shattering effect also on the structure of 
agriculture which was so important a part of Russia's productive 
system. What happened was described by Joseph Mirkin, a vice- 
director in the Paris head office of JCA, who was dispatched to 
the USSR on a mission of inquiry at the beginning of 1930.* 

Mir kin's report 

Mirkin began with a general overview of the Russian situation. 
The object of the Soviet regime, he said, was to make of Russia 
an industrial power, and for this purpose it must obtain modern 
machinery abroad, which required an ample supply of foreign 
exchange. To secure foreign currency, the country must export; 
and cereals, especially wheat, were at that time the only feasible 
export. In order to obtain the quantity required, the peasant had 
to be squeezed to surrender all his surplus grain to the government 
(the concept of 'surplus' being very generously interpreted in 
favour of the regime). However, as long as the peasant operated 
as an individual, he could contrive to hold back a good deal of 
grain for his own purposes. The government therefore forced the 
peasants to group into immense collective or co-operative farms 
- called sovhozy or kolkhozy - which cultivated large tracts in 



common, sometimes as much as 70,000 hectares (175,000 acres). 
These sovhozy were not co-operatives in the sense that we know 
them in Europe, but rather were instruments for exploiting the 
peasants by controUing both production and consumption. The 
result was that the peasants became worse off than they were 
before the war; in particular they had less to eat, for in the 
collective they were subject to the same hmits in this respect as 
the rest of the population. 

Stalin, by this time the supreme dictator, wrote that collectivis- 
ation always accompanies sociahsation, and in this connection he 
considered the possibility of liquidating the kulaks. The kulaks 
were the more successful peasants; though labelled 'exploiters', 
they rarely employed help, but were merely better and harder 
workers than the others. They naturally were the ones most 
strongly opposed to the collectivisation policy, as they had the 
most to lose from it. The kulaks were mercilessly liquidated. 
Mirkin describes the process graphically. Groups of young 
Communists from a nearby city would descend upon a village 
and call a meeting from which the kulaks were excluded. Hatred 
against them was whipped up, and at five in the morning - 
invariably at five - the by-now frenzied peasants would descend 
on the kulaks' houses and, regardless of the wails of children or 
the feeble protests of the old, would drive the hapless inhabitants 
into the open, often during the depth of the Russian winter, with 
no possessions but the clothing on their backs; everything else 
they owned was confiscated. Students of Russian history have 
estimated that millions, if not tens of millions, died in conse- 
quence of the drive for collectivisation. 

In the Jewish areas, 6-8 per cent of the farmers fell into the 
kulak class. The rest, reported Mirkin, were now working harder. 
(One would have thought the opposite would be the case, since 
it was working harder that earned the kulak label.) Collectivisation 
was well advanced, being complete in the Goulay-Pole district 
and having already reached 50 per cent in Nikopol. In the cities 
individuals were punished for having operated businesses that 
were perfectly legal during the NEP period; at the least, taxes 
were imposed on the basis of their past business which had been 
liquidated, and any current attempt at business activity was char- 
acterised as economic sabotage. 

A minor outrage committed in the collectivisation drive was 
the closing of all the cheese factories that JCA had so proudly 
initiated. This was done because the government wanted to 
control all the milk produced, as milk can be turned into butter, 
which was an export commodity. 

Mirkin concluded his section on collectivisation with the obser- 



vation that the Bolshevik revolution was now entering its acute 
phase, putting into practical effect an economic theory held by 
only a few. Nevertheless, in his estimation there was no chance 
of a successful revolt. He then took up some pages in what we 
now know was a purely academic discussion of JCA's prospects 
of securing repayment of past and future loans; in the process he 
revealed that 20-30 per cent of the newly settled farmers had 
absconded with their cattle and equipment, which meant that JCA 
would never be repaid for the loans made to these individuals. 
However, as the sequel showed, this loss proved to be 

Mirkin's concluding section was entitled, 'What is JCA to do?' 
It is certain, he says, that we (JCA) will have to become the agent 
of an enterprise that we condemn. For it is quite possible that the 
Bolsheviks may destroy the average peasant to benefit the poorest, 
as they have destroyed the kulaks. Therefore JCA has no choice 
but to withdraw from Russia. Having reached this firm and clear 
conclusion, Mirkin in true Jewish fashion proceeds to modify if 
not to contradict it. If we withdraw, he points out, it will deal a 
grave psychological blow to the 2 million Russian Jews. They 
will feel that one of their few friends, one of their chief connec- 
tions with the outside world, has deserted them. Furthermore, if 
we break relations with the Soviets, they may believe that our 
Russian staff were responsible and harm may come to them. So 
in the end Mirkin left it to the Council of JCA to take action on 
his revelations — or not. 

Clearly, the Russia that Mirkin saw on his 1930 visit was very 
different from the one Schmoll had visited five years earlier. 
Schmoll had come in the middle of the NEP period, when JCA 
and JDC were welcomed or even importuned to operate in Russia. 
Mirkin arrived at a time when the Soviets, reversing the NEP, 
were attempting to force collective methods of farming on the 
class most strongly attached to the concept of private property, 
namely the peasants, and when the government began to feel 
confident of its ability to handle even the most severe problems. 

By this time JCA's activities had become much more 
comprehensively documented. Not only were the proceedings of 
the Council reported fully in the minutes, but the minutes were 
supplemented by hundreds of pages of notes and copies of docu- 
ments bearing on the subjects discussed. Nevertheless, m all this 
material covering the six Council meetings held in 1930 and 1931, 
Mirkin's report is not once mentioned, although relations with 
the Soviets were discussed at length. It would seem that in 1930, 
when JCA stamped a document as confidential it was really meant 
to be such. Although Mirkin's report is never mentioned, nor is 



the choice of alternatives as set forth by him, it is clear, from the 
discussions and the decisions taken, which course the Council 
decided to follow: that was to stay in Russia, despite the difficul- 
ties caused by the attitude and pohcies of the Soviets. The Council 
did adopt a firm position that JCA would not invest any fresh 
money in the USSR but would draw on balances already built 
up there to pay for any new agricultural settlement work, and it 
re-emphasised its right to take money out of the country. The 
Council also decided to re-examine JCA's entire Russian 
programme at the end of 1931. 

Mirkin's report must have been made available to JDC, for 
a number of conferences were held in 1930 and 1931 between 
representatives of the two organisations at which their Russian 
programmes were discussed. In any case, JDC's agents had the 
same sources of information as Mirkin. The interesting question 
that arises is why two groups of wealthy capitalists, the JCA 
Council and JDC's officers (headed by Felix Warburg, of Kuhn 
Loeb & Company), continued to support an activity that was 
contributing to the building up of the Communist Soviet state. 
The answer to the question is compounded of several elements, 
of which anti-Zionism is one. Furthermore, and rather surprising- 
ly, the hard-bitten capitalists who ran JDC were affected by what 
Bauer calls a Rousseauian and romantic tradition, as Baron de 
Hirsch had been — that old physiocratic philosophy that living on 
and by the soil was somehow the most honourable way of making 
a living, closest to nature. There was probably also an element 
of inertia. Both JCA (in its reports) and JDC had congratulated 
themselves on their successes in Russia and were reluctant to leave 
the scene, even if conditions had changed radically.' Doubtless, 
too, Mirkin's point concerning the maintenance of morale among 
Jews in Russia by keeping a connection with the outside world 
and the desire to protect the staff of both agencies influenced their 
decision to continue. 

ORT was confronted with the same dilemma. In the 1930s the 
ORT office in Russia was forced to amalgamate with OZET, the 
'voluntary' Soviet Agency for Jewish Agricultural Settlement. 
Leon Shapiro, the historian of ORT, beheves that the decision to 
accept this amalgamation was correct, for it permitted ORT to 
continue to help Soviet Jews, albeit within severe Hmits.i° 

End of the line 

So JCA, ORT and JDC continued to work in Russia. In 1930 
JCA contributed to the establishment and maintenance of seven 



machinery and tractor stations in the 'old' colonies. Tractors did 
about one-third of the planting and harvesting and most of the 
clearing in these areas, where by now 72 per cent of the population 
was grouped in kolkhozy. Kolkhozy were attractive because the 
government ensured that they were served by the tractor and 
machinery stations. JCA agronomists were still free to work, and 
they gave courses in tree and vine culture that were attended by 
representatives of twenty-two kolkhozy. In what were habitually 
called the 'new' districts, i.e. Goulay-Pole and Nikopol, there 
were now 2,275 families, numbering 10,000 people. There, too, 
most of the planting and harvesting was done by the tractor 
depots, more than half of which were financed by JCA, as were 
the seed purchases. 

The loans to kassas, as we have seen, were stopped entirely, 
and the number of vocational schools connected with JCA was 
reduced to five. The equipment for the schools was still supplied 

By the following year, 1931, the number of people in the 'new' 
settlements had risen to over 14,000, living in houses that JCA 
had financed. The kolkhozy by now controlled almost all the 
available land, but JCA provided them with loans and sometimes 
materials for building repairs, stables, silos and schools. While 
crops were harvested collectively, and the revenues derived there- 
from, such as they were, were shared collectively, cows could still 
be individually owned, and JCA made loans for their purchase. 

In the next two years matters changed little. JCA paid for 
buildings, provided vine-grafts and helped support tractor 
stations; and the agronomists travelled around, teaching the 
farmers how to grow grapes and other fruit. The 1933 report 
reviewed the entire situation in Russia. It stated that JCA had 
helped, in both the old and the new colonies, a total of 4,231 
families. It also stated that, as more than 2,000 houses had been 
constructed in the new colonies, the problem of living accommo- 
dation could be considered more or less resolved. Together, the 
old and new colonies farmed 75,000 hectares (187,500 acres), 
about half planted to wheat. 

JCA's annual reports for the years 1934 and 1935 are very 
significant as far as the Association's activities in the USSR are 
concerned. While in the volumes for the previous years the 
Russian section consists of many pages of narrative and statistical 
tables, in the 1934 and 1935 reports we find just two short para- 
graphs in each, announcing that JCA was interested in about 
4,500 families occupying 75,000 hectares and would in 1936 and 
1937 help to provide credits for the increase of livestock and other 
improvements. For 1936 there is a Httle more - to the effect that 



JCA was continuing to help the agricultural centres in the 
Ukraine; that its agronomists were inculcating modern methods 
of cultivation; that not only were tractors and other machinery 
being operated by the members of the kolkhozy, but even in the 
more primitive places oxen were no longer used for motive 
power, having been replaced by horses. In the 1937 report nothing 
at all is said about the Russian programme. This silence was 

As far as ORT was concerned, its work in the 1930s shifted 
from agriculture to industry, which was beginning to absorb 
Jewish labour. ORT helped support 60 producer-co-operatives 
and 246 artels, thus assisting in all some 30,000-35,000 workers 
out of a total Jewish labour force of 1.1 million. '' ORT also 
continued to help a number o( kolkhozy containing 4,000 families. 

JDC's work in Russia experienced the same process of attrition 
as that of JCA and ORT. By the end of 1930, 12,000 Jewish 
families had been placed by Agro-Joint in the Ukraine and 
Crimea. In 1931 another 1,800 families were settled. Rosen 
obtained the land for them in exchange for importing 300 trac- 
tors. '^ Thus Agro-Joint, from the beginning of its activity in 
1924, had been responsible for placing a total of nearly 14,000 
Jewish families on farms in southern Russia. But the writing was 
soon to appear on the wall. Agro-Joint was told that its work in 
the Ukraine was finished and its offices were to be liquidated. 
From 1932 to 1934 its activities were confined to tractor stations 
in the Crimea and there is no mention of new settlement. Agro- 
Joint was in fact involved in 1935 and 1936 in a series of compli- 
cated proposals for a programme in Biro-Bidjan, but it did no 
actual work in that unsuccessful Soviet attempt to set up an 
autonomous Jewish republic in far-off Siberia. 

We have seen how the farm settlement efforts of JCA, ORT 
and Agro-Joint were beginning to run down in the 1930s. In the 
latter part of the decade the developments that took place in 
the USSR had a more profound effect on them. One of these 
developments was the expanding industrialisation, which 
absorbed Jews and others into the labour force, so that they did 
not have to look to agriculture for employment. Factory and 
other jobs in industry began to attract Jews away from the collec- 
tives. ^^ In addition, Russia's need for foreign exchange was no 
longer as acute as it had been. 

Finally, more for internal than external reasons, the Soviet 
attitude towards foreigners became highly suspicious; this was 
the time of the great purge trials, by which means Stalin elimin- 
ated rivals and enemies, real or imagined, and the Russian news 
media were full of stories about meetings (which never took 



place) between foreign agents and those whom Stahn wished to 
ehminate. In 1938 the members of the Agro-Joint staff were 
arrested and disappeared, and some may have been executed. 
Exactly the same thing happened with JCA. Its offices were closed 
without warning and the staff arrested. Their subsequent fate is 
unknown. Sachs, in charge of JCA's work in Russia, was lucky 
enough, or had foresight enough, to be in France at the time, and 
he did not return. Tregelnitski, the chief of the ORT office in 
Russia, who was also a Russian citizen, was not so lucky. Comzet 
informed ORT that there would be no more agreements, and 
shortly afterwards Tregelnitski was sent to a labour camp and 
disappeared. In this outburst of liquidation Comzet itself was also 
wound up - because, the Soviet authorities blandly declared, the 
Jewish problem in Russia had been solved. 

One problem, however, was only partially solved, at least from 
the point of view of the Jewish organisations. That was the 
question of repayment. ORT's modest demand for $264,000 
never received even the courtesy of a reply from the Soviet 
authorities.!'' Agro-Joint had spent a total of upwards of $10 
million including the expenditures for other than agricultural 
work. After many complex exchanges of securities with the 
Soviets, it received new Russian bonds in the amount of 
$2,430,000 which were indeed redeemed. JCA had spent a total 
of $4,136,000 in Russia, and its agreements with Comzet had 
divided this expenditure into repayable and non-repayable 
amounts. Under one of these agreements JCA was able to 
withdraw $225,000 until its office was closed in 1938. All requests 
for information after the closure remained unanswered. 

In the Second World War the invading German armies 
rampaged through the areas of the Ukraine and Crimea where 
the Jewish farm colonies had been located and did their Devil's 
work so thoroughly that apparently there were no survivors of the 
Agro-Joint settlements and the JCA villages. '5 There may have 
been as many as 120,000 Jews in these places before the war."" 

A Daniel come to judgment 

How shall we, with the dubious wisdom of hindsight, judge this 
great Jewish adventure in Russia during the period between the 
wars? Leon Shapiro says that ORT's activity should not be judged 
by its inglorious ending. '^ There is no question that, when the 
Jewish organisations began their labours in Russia in the early 
1920s, they were very helpful to their beleaguered co-reHgionists 
in Russia, who under the Bolshevik regime had no way of earning 



their daily bread. Yehuda Bauer declares that Agro-Joint was 
successful in restoring civil rights to half the lishentsy. But he also 
goes on to say that 'evaluation of the Agro-Joint work presents 
a very complicated problem' and, later, 'In the long run Agro- 
Joint work in Russia brought few results. 'is 

We would probably agree to apply this by no means gentle 
judgment to the work of JCA as well, and we cannot refrain from 
speculating upon how much the development and absorptive 
capacity of Palestine - and tiny Palestine in the 1920s was taking 
in more European Jews than any other country - would have 
been increased if some of the millions spent in Russia had been 
diverted there, especially after Mirkin's warning. In plain words, 
the anti-Zionism of Rosenwald and others still rankles. But in 
justice, one cannot have expected them to foresee Hitler and the 
creation of the Jewish state. 


One day in 1949, the JCA office in London was surprised by the 
receipt of a statement of account from the Bank for Foreign Trade 
of the USSR in Moscow showing a credit balance of 224,445 
roubles. How this credit had arisen the JCA people had no idea, 
although they surmised that it was a consequence of the agreement 
concluded with the Soviet government in 1932, which provided 
that JCA could transfer abroad 'sums arising from the repayment 
by the colonists of loans made to them'. We have seen that 
JCA did withdraw $225,000 under this agreement. The JCA staff 
guessed that the credit represented sums collected under the agree- 
ment from 1938, when the Moscow office was closed, until the 
outbreak of the war between Russia and Germany in 1941. 

Once apprised of this credit, JCA embarked on a veritable 
campaign in trying to collect it - letters, cables, memoranda and 
representations were sent to the Soviet Embassy in London. These 
methods were employed for 14 years without result. Finally, the 
Association decided to send an emissary to Moscow. The man 
chosen was Georges Aronstein. In 1949 Louis Oungre retired 
and was succeeded by a joint directorate consisting of Victor 
Girmounsky and Aronstein. The latter resigned shortly after- 
wards to resume the practice of law in his native Brussels, leaving 
Girmounsky as sole Director-General. Now Aronstein was asked 
by JCA to go to Moscow because of his familiarity with JCA's 
affairs and especially those in Russia. 

Aronstein went there in June 1963. In the course of his trip he 
paid a visit to the old JCA headquarters and found, not surpris- 



ingly, that it was occupied by some government bureau and that 
not the sHghtest trace remained of JCA's presence there 25 years 
before. Aronstein spent some days negotiating - if that is the 
proper word - with the officials of the Bank for Foreign Trade, 
who displayed the whole panoply of Russian obfuscatory tactics. 
If the Association did have a claim to these roubles, they said, 
that was doubtless counterbalanced by debits that must have accu- 
mulated elsewhere; alternatively, the money could be recovered 
if JCA would be willing to spend it in the Soviet Union. After a 
few days, seeing that further talk was futile, Aronstein returned 
home, having been told to submit additional documents to 
support the claim, i' He and JCA wrote more letters and memor- 
anda recapitulating the history of the affair; this process continued 
into 1964 when, mirahile dictu, the Russians, perhaps tired of 15 
years of wrangling over such a paltry sum, suddenly gave in. But 
the 224,445 roubles, which in 1949 were worth £15,000, produced 
for JCA only some £9,000 owing to the devaluation of the rouble 
vis-a-vis the pound sterling which had taken place in the inter- 
vening years. 

And so, 44 years after it began, did JCA's venture into Soviet 
Russia end with a small, if soul-satisfying, victory. 



Palestine and the Near East 


The number of Jews living in Palestine declined during the First 
World War, from 80,000 in 1914 to 58,000 in 1919. Economic 
stagnation, Turkish attempts to conscript citizens into its army, 
drastic measures against non-citizens^ and the fighting that took 
place in Palestine in 1917 and 1918 - all were contributory causes 
of the decline. As for the Jewish agricultural settlements, by 1919 
their fields and orchards, especially those on the coastal plain, 
which were the biggest and most important, were in poor condi- 
tion because of the lack of care and shortage of fertihser. 

For the first two or three years after the war an abnormally 
low rainfall retarded the recovery of agriculture, but through the 
1920s and into the 1930s Jewish immigration, and concomitantly 
population, increased. This was due to a number of factors: the 
Balfour Declaration by the British government in 1917, which 
held out the hope that a self-governing Jewish entity of some sort 
could be established in Palestine; the US immigration acts of 1923 
and 1924, which enforced a sharp reduction in the number of 
immigrants entering that country from Eastern Europe; the simul- 
taneous restrictions enacted by Canada, followed by the severe 
hmitations imposed by Argentina and Brazil on all immigration at 
the beginning of the Great Depression, which cut these countries' 
intake of Jews to a small trickle. All these exclusions left Palestine 
as the only place wiUing and able to accept substantial numbers. 
Hitler's accession to power in 1933, with the consequent emigra- 
tion of half the German Jewish population (about 500,000 people), 
added to the pressure on the receiving countries. By this time the 
doors to Palestine had been more than half closed by the British 
who, under the influence of the waves of Arab riots in 1929 
and 1935-6, restricted and finally proposed to put an end to the 
movement of Jews into the country. 

On the positive side, immigration into Palestine was stimulated 
by a more active Zionist organisation. The World Zionist Organi- 
sation had opened its first Palestine office in 1908 but had 



remained a relatively small factor on the scene through the First 
World War. Afterwards, under the impetus of the Balfour Declar- 
ation and the pressure of hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees 
from Russia and other Eastern European countries, it raised more 
money and founded many colonies in the Holy Land on a scale 
equalling, by the late 1930s, that of JCA and Baron Rothschild. 

As far as the latter were concerned, there were some important 
developments. The export trade in wine was seriously reduced 
by the closing of its two major markets: the United States, because 
of the Prohibition amendment effective in 1919; and Russia, where 
the lack of foreign exchange made it almost impossible to buy 
anything abroad, let alone a semi-luxury, and of religious import 
at that. 

But if wine exports fell to almost nil, another export - oranges 
— flourished. Amid the usually rather glum JCA reports of the 
early 1920s, we fmd remarks like: 'in 1921 Nes Ziona did well 
with its orange crop'; 'in 1922 the almonds and grapes of Rishon- 
le-Zion did poorly, but the return was good for the oranges at 
Petach-Tikva'; 'in 1923, while its other products did not do well, 
Rehovot's oranges were successful, as again were those of Nes 
Ziona'. This last in JCA's view was the pre-eminent orange centre 
in Palestine, for again and again the reports mention its successful 
orange crops. The success of oranges here and elsewhere inspired 
farmers in the coastal plain to begin growing another kind of 
citrus - grapefruit - in 1922. 

While the JCA settlements in general do not seem to have 
suffered much damage in the 1919 outbreak of Arab rioting, the 
isolated outpost of Metulla, at the northernmost edge of Palestine, 
was sacked by neighbouring tribes of Bedouin in 1920. JCA, 
following its usual custom of alleviating the phght of its colonies 
in distress, made loans to the inhabitants for the rehabilitation of 
their ruined houses, only to see the Bedouin return the next year, 
this time to destroy the villagers' crops. 


It will be remembered that back in 1900 the Baron Edmond de 
Rothschild, weakened by ill-health and wearied by the immense 
losses suffered by the Palestinian colonies he was supporting, 
turned the administration of his venture over to JCA. Rothschild, 
however, as chairman and financier of the Commission Palestin- 
lenne, which was the formal instrument through which the new 
arrangement operated, retained great influence. By 1924, when 
his health had been restored (he was then 79 years old) and by 
which time he had a mature and able son, James, who was ready 


5a BeerTuvia, Israel. Farmer's house before the 1929 disturbances 

■ms-s- ««»»0»'«i>»-.«B*''jt™.'' 

5b Beer Tuvia, Israel, 1930. The settlement in ruins 


-..^ \. .-*■ -^"i- 


W(\ ■ ""'^''^i^T • * ■,'•''-'■;.■ • '^^^^^HHHPfl 

3^!fS^^^T "* • 

^^^^M^Mpag^KgBgE^gjjy ' '"^i^iw^ -^ '^ 




L»r 'i?^??^* *• ^vl^S^ 

1 .^bEI., . ■v'^^sj^^^B^^^^'"" - 1' ^^ ^^VM^lHM^^^^^^^^^^^^tf^F^^ 

EM^C--^ *%jg(| 



!■ lWM£^' .^ '^A a-- ''* ' " ^^rlSfllllSll^^lHS'^H'^IV^ SHLsE'' 

6a Beer Tuvia, Israel. The settlement after reconstruction 



^- -^^^^ll^ 


7 -»'*»i^ 






. . ^''. ■. -n^' ■ 

6b Israel, 1937. Surveying the Huleh swamps 


to participate actively in the work in Palestine, the Baron appar- 
ently decided to step once more into the foreground. Another 
motive may have been his intention to go beyond agriculture and 
participate in the industrial development of Palestine. JCA had 
already initiated activity of this kind in 1923 by investing in a 
flour mill in Haifa and starting salt works at Atlit, south of 
Haifa. In 1924 a new company, the Palestine Jewish Colonization 
Association (PICA), was registered. It took over from JCA the 
management of all the settlements that JCA had supervised, 
including not only colonies originally under Rothschild's care, 
such as Petach Tikvah and Rishon-le-Zion, but also places that 
JCA had taken under its wing in 1896 or subsequently, like 
Rehovoth and Ness Ziona, or had itself founded, like Hedera and 
Sedjera. All of JCA's staff seconded to the Commission Palestin- 
ienne was transferred to PICA, and James de Rothschild was put 
in active charge. 

In 1925 Baron Edmond made his last - and triumphant - tour 
of Palestine. He was given a tumultuous welcome in the colonies 
he had sustained and was greeted as 'Hanadiv', the benefactor. 
His visit coincided with the completion of the reclamation of the 
Kabbarah, a marshy region south of Haifa covering 5000 dunams, 
which was turned into productive land while at the same time 
the threat of malaria was eliminated. This great task had been 
initiated nine years before, and its conclusion was a fitting tribute 
to Edmond's work in Palestine. He lived another nine years, 
dying in 1934 at the age of 89. 

The work of PICA continued under the leadership of Baron 
James. Its participation in industrial development was greatly 
increased by investments in cement plants, a brewery and the 
King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Most important was its contribu- 
tion to the financing of the Palestine Electric Company. The 
growing general availability of electric power throughout the 
country could be said to have been a prime factor in making Israel 
the first modern country in the Near East. Nor did PICA forget 
that it had its origins in the role of a protector of Palestinian 
agricultural colonies; after the Second World War, and after Israel 
had become an independent nation, settlements were established 
on all the land remaining in PICA's hands. 

The pressure of outside events brought two former opponents 
together. The Arab troubles of 1935-6 caused PICA and the 
Zionist settlements to co-ordinate defence plans, and this action 
was a pointer to the future. When the Jewish state was created 
and the world-wide United Jewish Appeal experienced its great 
post-war growth, part of PICA's reason for existence evaporated. 
Well financed though it had been by Rothschild, there was now 



an even better financed agency in the field prepared to carry out 
the work of settling Jews on farms in the Holy Land, and prepared 
to do it in a communal fashion which never quite fitted in with 
the concepts of PICA, or for that matter of JCA, both of which 
organisations were attuned to dealing with individual farmers 
owning their own plots. The kibbutzim, with their communal 
structure, wherein there was no individual ownership of the land 
and the means of production, seemed a fitting expression of the 
Zionist spirit; they involved not only the development of farming 
by Jews, but doing it in such a way that the individual worker 
was directly part of a larger entity than himself and his family. 
And, of course, the acquisition of land, which was so important 
a part of the activity of the Baron de Rothschild, JCA and PICA, 
was now of less relevance, with the state of Israel coming into 
possession of very extensive stretches of government land and 
also exercising a measure of control over the areas acquired by 
the Keren Kayemet (Jewish National Fund), the Zionist land- 
buying agency. 

Also, there was the question of personality. When James de 
Rothschild died in 1957, at the age of seventy-nine, there was no 
heir available to carry on the direction of the enterprise that had 
been so important a part of the lives of his father and himself 
Therefore, in accordance with arrangements made by James 
before he died (he had written to Prime Minister Ben-Gurion that 
all the suitable land that PICA owned had been colonised, so 
that 'today there is no cultivable land left to PICA for further 
colonisation'), all remaining PICA land, about 150,000 dunams, 
was transferred to organs of the state, as were the 'factories and 
utilities owned by PICA' 2 In addition, James promised a donation 
of 6 milhon Israel pounds (£1.2 million sterling) for the construc- 
tion of the Knesset (Parliament) building in Jerusalem. This was 
implemented on his death. 


With the transfer of the managment of all its Palestine colonies 
and its staff to PICA, JCA was left with no active function in 
that country. But it did not discontinue its reports on the affairs 
of the colonies, in which, after all, it still owned land and was 
owed considerable amounts of money. The tenor of these reports 
was chiefly to the effect that Ness Ziona, wholly devoted to 
oranges, was doing very well, and Rehovoth and Hedera, which 
were by now also largely devoted to oranges, were doing quite 
well; while other colonies, such as Sedjera and Mishmar 
Hayarden, which were without oranges, were not doing well at 



all. Another matter on which JC A reported in detail was popula- 
tion. In 1922 there had been 2,465 inhabitants in the six JCA 
colonies, of which Rehovoth, Ness Ziona and Hedera were the 
most important. Ten years later, in 1932, these same six settle- 
ments had a population of 6,568, demonstrating the effect of 
reasonable economic conditions and the fact that Palestine had 
been open to Jewish immigration in the intervening years. 

Despite JCA's non-involvement in activities in Palestine, Louis 
Oungre, the Association's Director-General, visited the country 
from October to December 1932 and, as was his usual custom, 
wrote a comprehensive report on it. This visit was by no means 
due to a spontaneous desire on Oungre's part to travel; it was 
preceded and stimulated by a series of interesting and important 
conferences between JCA and Zionist officials and among JCA's 
own Council members and its Director-General. 

Palestine Emergency Fund 

Before discussing these meetings it is necessary to say a word 
about the Palestine Emergency Fund, the existence of which 
provided part of the raison d'etre of these conferences. 

In 1929 there had been a serious outbreak of Arab rioting and 
assaults on Jewish lives and property in Palestine. The Jewish 
community at Hebron was attacked, 70 of its members were 
killed and the remainder fled to Jerusalem; 18 Jews in Safed were 
massacred and the town's Jewish quarter was sacked; many 
villages were destroyed, including Beer Tuvia, situated about 10 
kilometres east of Ashdod, of which we shall hear more later. In 
order to bring relief to the victims of these attacks and to rebuild 
their houses, a fund of £2 million was raised. Two-thirds of this 
came from the United States, a fifth from England, the remainder 
from other countries. Well-known Jewish personalities including 
Felix Warburg and Bernard Flexner in the United States and James 
de Rothschild, Simon Marks, Lord Reading and Sir Osmond 
d'Avigdor Goldsmid in England constituted the governing 
committee. 2 The Fund's activities in Palestine, directed by a very 
energetic and innovative American social worker, Maurice B. 
Hexter, were completely independent of those of all other organi- 
sations. By the summer of 1932, when the work of relief and 
reconstruction was essentially completed, there remained at the 
disposal of the Fund the considerable sum of £192,000 in cash 
with more to come in the form of repayment of loans.'' 

Sir Leonard Cohen, the President of JCA, had taken part in a 
long discussion with Chaim Weizmann, the President of the 
World Zionist Organisation, and Simon Marks, in which his 



attention had been called to the parlous state of the finances of 
the newly founded Jewish Agency, which had been established 
to bring Zionists and non-Zionists together to work for the 
upbuilding of the Jewish community in Palestine. At the same 
time, representatives of a number of Palestinian organisations 
had approached JCA's Director-General in the same spirit: their 
resources were running out and they needed help. Lastly, and 
most important, because he was not asking for money but actually 
controlled a supply of it, Maurice Hexter had submitted to Sir 
Leonard and Louis Oungre proposals for the Emergency Fund to 
join withJCA for the purpose of establishing settlement projects 
or irrigation works in Palestine. To consider these requests and 
suggestions. Sir Leonard, Sir Osmond and Mr Oungre met in 
London late in August 1932. The former two gentlemen raised 
the question of how proper it would be for JCA to interest 
itself in Palestinian affairs. They answered their own inquiry by 
concurring that at this time, when the great majority of the Jewish 
world was concerned with Palestine, it was not right for JCA to 
'persist in the attitude of abstention which it had observed up to 
this time'. 5 

This attitude, Cohen and Goldsmid felt, had caused pain in 
certain responsible circles (milieux serieux), and the Jewish world 
would not be ignorant of the fact that in this time of crisis JCA 
remained financially the most powerful Jewish organisation in the 
world, especially after what they conceived to be the impoverish- 
ment of American Jewry as a result of the Great Depression. (This 
was a somewhat more pessimistic conclusion than was justified 
by the facts, but unquestionably American Jews had suffered 
huge losses^ while JCA's assests on 31 December 1932 were still 
substantial.) 'In the moral interest of JCA and to preserve its 
reputation in the eyes of world Jewry', it was decided that the 
organisation should respond to the proposals it had already on 
hand and would receive in the future by undertaking constructive 
activity in Palestine. 

The world moves, and JCA perforce moves with it, if some- 
what belatedly. This declaration of concern for the opinion of 
world Jewry and the indication of interest in activity in Palestine 
would have rung very curiously, if they could have heard it, in 
the ears of those critics who so often had accused JCA of being 
utterly unconcerned with pubhc opinion. And certainly, the posi- 
tive attitude towards Palestine was a far cry from the outlook of 
Meyerson, Oungre's predecessor as Director-General. 

Having concurred on the taking of constructive steps in 
Palestine, the three gentlemen agreed that the cost of these steps, 
whatever direction they might take, should be kept within JCA's 



ordinary revenues and not impinge on its capital. It was felt that 
there was sufficient excess of income over expenditure to provide 
ample funds for work in Palestine. 

Of all the suggestions made by Palestinian organisations, those 
of Maurice Hexter were the most appealing to the JCA officials, 
not only because he proffered considerable financing but because 
the idea of working with much the same group of Americans as 
were on the Board of the 'Foundation' (see p. 173) was very 
agreeable; these Americans had the proper standing in the 
community, and the Foundation had operated with little friction 
and considerable success for the last eight years. Also, despite this 
change of heart, it was felt that for JCA to work alone in Palestine 
would be to expose it to all kinds of criticisms and pressures from 
the opposite, if minority, side of world Jewry; some, indeed, 
possibly from within its own membership (for example, Leonard 
G. Montefiore, a member of the Council and President from 1940 
to 1947), were opposed to the idea of a Jewish state, and might 
well have not been enthusiastic about activity in Palestine. 

It was concluded that, before further steps were taken to 
advance these arrangements, the Director-General should proceed 
to Palestine to look over the terrain of proposed action and confer 
with Dr Hexter. 7 It was clear that no details of the projected 
enterprise could be sketched in until an inspection had been made 
and discussions held with the prospective partner. Nevertheless, 
one basic rule of action was decided on: namely that all 
investments by the new enterprise should be made on the principle 
of recoverability and that no money be used for non-remunerative 
projects like schools, hospitals, synagogues or outright charity. 
In other words, JCA was prepared to re-commit itself in Palestine, 
but not without reservations. 

Oungre's report 

So in September 1932 Louis Oungre went to Palestine. But his 
visit was motivated by more than an intention to explore the 
new agency suggested Ijy Maurice Hexter, participation in which 
would indicate that the Association had joined the majority of 
the Jewish world in supporting the Zionist enterprise in Palestine. 
JCA, whether it consciously perceived the situation or not, had 
little alternative if it wished to continue activity on a significant 
scale: where else but in Palestine was it possible to continue JCA's 
mission of moving Jews out of Eastern Europe and setthng them 
in new and more accommodating circumstances? Oungre himself 
had said that the Argentine enterprise was in danger of stagnating 
unless there was a big influx of new settlers, but the Argentine 



government's regulations had reduced Jewish immigration to near 
zero; Hkewise, in Brazil and Canada further growth of JCA's 
colonies was inhibited by strict quotas, which affected all would- 
be immigrants and Jews in particular. Palestine, therefore, 
appeared to be the only place where the Jewish farm population 
could grow. The JCA colonies there, now managed by PICA, 
had two-and-a-half times as many residents as ten years before. 

Oungre doubtless had some half-formed conclusions in his 
mind before he set out for Palestine, inasmuch as the idea of the 
conference with Sir Leonard Cohen and Sir Osmond d'Avigdor 
Goldsmid had been at least already agreed upon by Oungre and 
Hexter. As co-Director of the Foundation, Oungre often visited 
the Foundation offices in Berlin, where the European headquarters 
of JDC were located; and Hexter came to Berlin occasionally on 
missions for JDC. Thus the two men had become acquainted, 
and they had exchanged views on the possibility of the resumption 
by JCA of work in Palestine. More than this, they had worked 
out the nature of the relationship that would exist between them 
if JCA did come back to Palestine.* 

Despite this agreement on basic principles, when Oungre 
started his visit to Palestine his mind was still not fully made up. 
Certainly he put hard and searching questions to Hexter, who 
believes that what finally convinced Oungre was the opportunity 
presented by the drainage of the Huleh (which will be discussed 
below) and the eager interest shown by the settlers' children in 
their fathers' farm work.' 

In his report, Oungre not only recommended JCA's acceptance 
of Hexter's proposal, but took the opportunity of setting down 
what he considered vital principles concerning agricultural settle- 
ment. He reiterated the doctrine of mixed farming (the Argentine 
colonists, for example, might have ridden out depressions better 
if they had diversified more) and proposed the same restrictive 
rules as in Argentina for the sons of settlers, especially the placing 
of the sons' farms at a specified distance from the fathers', forget- 
ting that this could have inhibiting effects on the number of 

He devoted the last chapter of his report to the possibilities of 
the drainage and reclamation of the Huleh area, north of Lake 
Galilee. There the soil was rich but unusable, because it was 
marshy and malarial. Oungre was impressed by the prospects it 
offered of being converted to productive farmland. He was also 
impressed by, but did not report on, two other aspects of Jewish 
farm life in Palestine. One we have mentioned - the interest that 
young people and even children took in it, in contrast to the 
lukewarm attitude of Jewish youth in Argentina; the second was 



the excellent repayment record of the settlers, which again con- 
trasted with the difficulties JCA experienced in this regard with 
its South American settlers. 'o 

Regardless of Oungre's opinions on polyculture or the proper 
distance between farms owned by fathers and sons, his object in 
coming to Palestine was fulfilled. Indeed, he was perhaps more 
favourably affected by Palestine and its Jewish farmers than he 
had expected to be. Not surprisingly, since he and Hexter had 
agreed on much in advance, he came down roundly in favour of 
the suggestion that JCA should form an organisation in conjunc- 
tion with the Palestine Emergency Fund for setting up new 

The Etnica Association 

Oungre hurried back to Paris to present this matter at the JCA 
Council meeting of 22 December 1932. On the motion of the 
President, Sir Leonard Cohen, it was formally decided to enter 
into an accord with the trustees of the Emergency Fund for the 
establishment of an agency for economic development in 
Palestine, to be called the Emica Association. Each partner would 
contribute £25,000 for each of the first three years. The new 
organisation would buy enough land to settle 150 families or 
more during this period, at the end of which the project would 
be re-examined. ^1 

As Kurt Grunwald, Hirsch's biographer, remarked in a review 
of Avni's book on JCA in Argentina, The Promised Land, the 
Baron's rebuff to Theodor Herzl has caused Jewish chroniclers to 
deny him 'his proper place in the history of the modern Jewish 
renaissance'. >2 And this denial has extended to his creation, the 
Jewish Colonization Association. However, the leading Zionist 
of the time, Chaim Weizmann, was quick to recognise the import- 
ance of Emica and to applaud its establishment. On 20 February 
1933 he wrote the following letter to Sir Leonard: 

I was delighted to learn from Mr Goldsmid, on my return 
yesterday after an absence of some ten days on the Continent, 
that the agreement between the ICA and the Emergency Fund 
has now been signed. I believe it is a great piece of work 
that you have done in the negotiation of this agreement, and 
one that is bound to have great and far-reaching 
consequences for Palestine, and to redound to the credit of 
those responsible for it. I should like, if I may, to 
congratulate you very warmly on this happy conclusion of 
the discussions. 



Emica, which was incorporated in England in July 1933 and 
registered by the mandatory Government of Palestine in January 
1934, immediately planned to found three settlements. It made 
valiant efforts to buy land but found this next to impossible 
because of Arab hostihty. Therefore it took over 2,000 dunams 
(500 acres) from the Jewish National Fund located around the 
village of Beer Tuvia, where the Emergency Fund had already 
started restoration work. Emica proposed to settle 60 families 
there, including 15 from Germany. By 1935 the houses had been 
constructed and irrigation works put in, and before the end of 
that year some cultivation had been begun. True to Oungre's 
principles, it was planned that the settlers practise mixed farming, 
with dairy cattle as the base. Each settler had cows provided by 
Emica and a 35-dunam plot for growing vegetables and forage. 
The eight artisan families who were there to perform necessary 
services like machinery repair each received 3 dunams on which 
to grow vegetables. Emica gave the new colony a communal 
building. By 1936 the place was completely settled, but because 
of the Arab disturbances of that year it was necessary to post 
guards around the clock. By 1937 Beer Tuvia had grown to 125 
families comprising 496 people. 

Emica was making plans for further development despite the 
difficulty of acquiring land. In fact, Emica, in conjunction with 
JCA and the American Refugee Economic Corporation, had for 
some years been eyeing the Huleh in which Louis Oungre had 
displayed so much interest. The three partners had investigated 
some 36,000 dunams there and concluded, on the basis of a report 
commissioned from the prominent English firm of civil engineers, 
Rendel, Palmer and Tritton, that drainage was possible and if 
successful would add materially to the country's stock of arable 
soil. The (British mandatory) government was persuaded to 
survey the area, and its preliminary appraisal was favourable. 
Therefore, an important part of Emica's planning in 1937 was in 
connection with the development of the Huleh, in which it hoped 
to draw in as a partner the Jewish National Fund with its large 

All this time, while it was going through its third incarnation 
in Palestine in the form of the Emica Association, JCA was report- 
ing on the development of its 'old' colonies in the country, now 
managed by PICA. As before, Ness Ziona, Rehovoth, Hedera, 
etc., continued to grow in population, though they suffered a 
setback in 1936 when rains at the wrong time ruined the orange 
crop. As for Sedjera, it too was damaged in that year, not by the 
vagaries of nature but by Arab raids. 

On the eve of the Second World War Emica was poised to 



create other colonies in the style of Beer Tuvia and was preparing 
another venture on a grander scale: namely, participation in the 
drainage of the Huleh. The coming of the war put off for a time 
the accompHshment of these plans, the outcome of which will be 
described later. 


Up to this enforced interruption, what had this series of agencies 
- the original Rothschild enterprise, JCA, the Commission Pales- 
tinienne, PICA and Emica - accomplished in the 58 years from 
1881, when Baron Edmond started making grants to some of the 
struggling Jewish colonies in Palestine, to 1939? First, there was 
the provision of a home for some of those Jews who wanted to 
live elsewhere than in Russia or Poland. A great many of these 
also felt the positive stimulus of wishing to build up a National 
Home. By 1937 there were 40,000 persons living in the PICA 
settlements. Not only for these, but for tens of thousands of 
earlier immigrants, the Rothschild and JCA villages and towns 
had provided the preferred alternative of life outside Eastern 
Europe. Second, these settlements, though they had first been 
sponsored without political intention, turned out to have enor- 
mous political importance; because, when the time came for the 
mandatory power. Great Britain, to consider partition as a 
solution to the problem of sovereignty in Palestine, the land 
owned by PICA and JCA and by the settlers they had assisted 
constituted a large part of the various versions of the Jewish 
state mapped by the British Royal Commissions and a significant 
segment of the state that finally emerged from the War of Inde- 
pendence in 1948. 

A Swiss scholar, Doris Angst, has devoted a doctoral thesis to 
the role of JCA in building up Jewish holdings in Palestine. ^^ She 
points out that JCA was responsible for establishing forty-five 
new settlements in the twenty-four years it had the stewardship 
of the Rothschild operations, and that by 1941 the JCA and 
Rothschild settlements together held 41 per cent of the land in 
private Jewish hands, accommodating 50 per cent of the farm 
population. In a general way she makes the same claim as has 
been set forth earlier in this book, that the land occupied by the 
JCA and Rothschild settlements was the basis for the area putati- 
vely awarded to the Jewish state by the British partition plans. 
The non-Zionist JCA was therefore, she asserts, an important 
factor in the building of the Jewish state, by providing it with a 
base of both land and people. It should also be remembered that 
much of the JCA and Rothschild land had not been in the inven- 



tory of arable soil in Palestine before these agencies undertook 
the reclamation of large areas from swamp, marsh and desert. In 
other words, the settlers helped by JCA and Rothschild added 
significantly to Palestine's total stock of usable land. 

Miss Angst also calls attention to the importance of the vast 
monetary outlays of the Baron de Rothschild, who agreed to 
cover the deficits of the Commission Palestinienne up to a total 
of 15 million francs, which amount was reached in six years after 
the JCA takeover of the administration in 1900. This figure does 
not include the millions that the non-Zionist Baron de Rothschild 
expended before 1900 and the amount spent by the non-political 
JCA after that date. 

Third, both the Baron de Rothschild and JCA contributed in a 
major way to the economic development of Palestine and Israel, 
with special reference to agriculture. Miss Angst makes the 
sweeping statement that JCA, consequent upon its aim of estab- 
lishing independent farmers, was reponsible for the modernisation 
of Palestine's agriculture.''' This may be an overstatement, but 
unquestionably JCA, with its insistence that its proteges practise 
agriculture rationally, and its introduction of items like powerful 
American-made pumps that could bring water up from hitherto 
untapped levels, advanced farming technology materially. In 
contrast to the waste of a good deal of time and money by the 
Rothschild regime in futile experiments with such things as silk- 
worm culture and growing flowers for perfume, the Commission 
Palestinienne improved citrus growing by sending experts to Cah- 
fornia to become acquainted with the latest techniques, and by 
helping to introduce the production of grapefruit. And as we have 
seen, apart from agriculture, JCA invested in saltworks and flour 
mills, while PICA helped establish the cement industry and made 
an important investment in the Palestine Electric Company. And 
on the eve of the Second World War JCA, in its newest incarn- 
ation as Emica, was launching a new settlement programme and 
approaching the initiation of a great drainage effort in the north- 
eastern corner of Palestine. 

From the point of view of JCA, its return to Palestine in 1933 
was important in giving the Association an ongoing mission. Its 
colonization work in the New World was stagnating; and while 
it was performing Herculean labours of rehef in Eastern Europe, 
its work there - and its beneficiaries - were to be blotted out in 
a few years by the Second World War and the Holocaust. Palestine 
and then Israel were the only fields left in which it could take 
significant constructive action. 




By 1912 the JCA administration had decided that its programme 
on Cyprus was not viable. The place was oppressively hot in 
summer; persons not native to the island were susceptible to 
malaria; not enough Jews were attracted there to constitute an 
organised community, although a school that taught Hebrew 
among other subjects was maintained with JCA help; finally and 
most significantly, Palestine, with all it lacked, certainly had a 
plethora of organised Jewish life and was only a few hours away 
by sea. Palestine therefore exercised an irresistible attraction for 
Jewish settlers on Cyprus, who after being on the island for a 
year or two left it in a steady stream for the Holy Land. 

JCA apparently felt that a decent interval should elapse between 
a decision that a project was not worth-while and action on 
such a decision. Therefore the two years between the decision to 
abandon Cyprus and the outbreak of war in 1914 did not provide 
enough time to do anything about selling the land; and the war 
years were no time for a land sale either. So 1919 found JCA still 
ensconced on its three estates, with a population of 169. Crops 
had been poor and continued so in the following years, and the 
population continued to decline. It was 1923 before JCA, deciding 
that its losses in Cyprus had reached an intolerable level, withdrew 
its administrator, declaring that the emancipes were able to take 
care of themselves. This act, accompanied by the cessation of the 
subsidies to which the settlers had been accustomed, led more 
families to leave for Palestine, and by 1927 the population was 
down to 43. The following year the Association took the final 
step of hquidating its holdings in Cyprus, which appears no more 
in its annals. JCA perhaps judged the settlers rather harshly in 
remarking that they had not had the patience or the energy to 
make a success of their hfe in Cyprus; certainly the absence of an 
organised Jewish community had been one discouragement for 


The reports on the JCA settlements in Turkey during and after 
the First World War read less like a sober account of farm settle- 
ment than a set of fragments extracted from a review of the 
Turko-Greek War of 1920-2 interspersed with pages from a 
monograph on the sociology of the Turks in confrontation with 
ahens. JCA had four colonies in the country, one, Fethy-Keuy, 
in European Turkey, and three in Anatolia - Or Yehuda, the 



biggest, which had been both agricultural school and farm colony, 
Messila-Hadacha and Tikfour Tchiflik. 

During the Great War the settlers at Fethy-Keuy, because they 
were Russians and therefore enemy aliens, had been put into 
concentration camps, and their premises had been ravaged by the 
Turks. In spite of these tribulations a few of them managed 
somehow to remain in situ and even did some farm work. Others 
who were able to return to Russia after the war were detained by 
the Bolsheviks. After the war, as a measure of protection, JCA 
as a British company succeeded in getting the place declared 
British property; this did not however deter the Greek army, who 
in 1921 destroyed it. Fethy-Keuy was finally wholly abandoned 
by its Jewish farmers. 

In 1920 Or Yehuda was in the path of the fighting between the 
Turkish and the Greek armies, but some tenants stayed on (the 
agricultural school had been closed in 1914), some new settlers 
arrived from Russia, and the inhabitants managed to raise enough 
food to live on. The Greek army stole all the horses, but the ever- 
optimistic JCA replaced them with a tractor. Then came Turkish 
irregulars, followed by the regular Turkish army, who put the 
buildings to its own use as a school and hospital. As soon as the 
Turkish troops left, JCA, undaunted, reopened the agricultural 
school. By 1923 the Association thought the colony's future 
sufficiently hopeful for modern methods of cultivation to be intro- 
duced, but the fifty or so occupants resisted, preferring to produce 
their grapes and tobacco in the same way as they had done for 
years past. Meanwhile the attitude of rtie Turks living nearby 
became so menacing that many of the settlers left. The attempt 
to revive the agricultural school had proved unsuccessful and the 
farm operation was losing money, so JCA decided to dispose of 
Or Yehuda. It was sold in 1926, and some of the remaining 
families emigrated to Argentina and Brazil. 

Messila-Hadacha, founded by Russian Jews in 1911, was twice 
despoiled by the Turks and its inhabitants fled to Istambul; but 
by 1920 some had returned and JCA replaced the lost animals and 
proceeded to reorganise the colony. When the Turko-Greek War 
came to an end there was talk of putting in new families, but 
action was held in abeyance because of the xenophobic attitude 
of the Turkish neighbours whose patriotic and indeed chauvinistic 
feelings had been stirred up by the conflict with the Greeks and 
confrontations with the British and Italian governments. The 
result was that most of the settlers moved to Palestine; the few 
who remained eked out a living selling milk and eggs in Istambul. 

As for Tikfour-Tchiflik, situated near Or Yehuda, it had been 
ruined by the fighting, and the half dozen remaining settlers 



Stayed only as long as they still hoped to receive compensation 
for war damage. 

By 1926 Fethy-Keuy had been taken over by Turkish farmers 
(who paid rent to the government, not to JCA, the proper owner); 
in Tikfour-Tchiflik three families were left who were sufficiently 
successful to pay both taxes and the sums due to JCA, as well as 
purchase two tractors; at Messilah-Hadacha also there were only 
three families left, but here part of JCA's land was seized by the 
government on the pretext of non-utilisation. JCA eventually 
recovered its title to this land after a lengthy but successful legal 

In its 1927 and 1928 reports JCA stated that its decision to leave 
Turkey - which country it had entered to help farmers already 
there (this was not altogether correct; JCA had purchased Or 
Yehuda on its own initiative) - was justified by the political unrest 
and the antagonism against non-Muslims. It was not until 1931 
that JCA was able to complete the liquidation of its interests in 
Turkey. Its ventures there had at least provided, during the 
quarter century of their existence, a temporary refuge for some 
hundreds of families, mostly of Russian Jews. 



Poland and Eastern Europe 

Polish Jewry between the wars 

The situation of Poland's sizeable Jewish minority between the 
world wars has to be seen in the context of the social, economic 
and political conditions that prevailed in the new nation during 
that period. Jews made up about 10 per cent of a total PoHsh 
population of 30 miUion. Although Poland was primarily an 
agricultural country, most Jews were urban dwellers. Thus one- 
third of Warsaw's population was Jewish, and indeed in some 
towns Jews were in the majority. 

The state of the Polish economy between 1918 and 1939 can 
only be described as wretched. Much of the country had been 
turned into a battlefield by the First World War, and not long 
after the Armistice of 1918 had come the Russo-Polish War, 
lasting from May 1920 to March 1921 and wreaking yet more 
havoc upon an already devastated land. Recovery was bound to 
be slow, and the task of rebuilding a nation out of three regions 
separated from one another for over a century was in any case 
far from easy, especially in the economic sphere, where each had 
formerly benefited from access to the large market afforded by a 
great empire. 

By 1926, though still a long way from prosperity,' Poland 
began to experience something of an economic recovery. This 
trend was boosted by the English coal strike of that year, which 
redounded to the advantage of Poland, a leading exporter of coal, 
and more generally by the world-wide prosperity of the mid- 
1920s. This revival was short-lived, however, for soon the world 
was plunged into the Great Depression. Among the prices that 
fell first and furthest were those for agricultural products, a fact 
particularly critical for Poland, whose welfare, 'because of the 
preponderance of agriculture', depended 'upon the world prices 
of agricultural products to a far greater degree than the prosperity 
of the United States or even of France'. ^ By 1934 PoHsh agricul- 
tural prices were at one-third of their 1928 levels, and the country 
sank into a slump, with concomitant massive unemployment 



from which it had not fully recovered by the time of the Nazi 
invasion in 1939. 

This is not the place to explain (if indeed it is possible to do 
so) why the Poland created by the Treaty of Versailles was so 
virulently anti-Semitic. The right-wing 'Camp of National 
Unity', the ruling body after Marshal Pilsudski's coup d'etat of 
1926, made no bones about their hatred of Jews. It is true that 
Pilsudski restrained his followers inasmuch as he opposed the 
infliction of actual physical harm upon Jews; after his death in 
1935 there was no check on the Camp. The central aim of its 
policy for Jews was to exclude them from participation in the 
social and economic life of the nation. This aim entered the 
popular consciousness via the incitement to Poles to 'engage in 
economic and cultural self-defence against the Jews'. ^ 

The impact of such a policy on the situation of the Jews is not 
hard to picture. The Jewish 10 per cent of the population paid 35 
to 40 per cent of the taxes, but only 1 per cent of the funds 
distributed to religious bodies by the government went to Jewish 
organisations. In schools and universities Jews were under-repre- 
sented, and Jews who had received a professional education 
outside the country were not permitted to qualify in Poland; any 
who somehow surmounted this formidable obstacle would still 
find themselves barred from membership of doctors' or lawyers' 
associations. There were practically no Jews in the civil service. 
Boycotts and mass picketing of Jewish stores became everyday 

These measures had the expected and desired effect of driving 
almost the entire Jewish community into penury. Dr Bernard 
Kahn, head of JDC in Europe, reported in 1931 that half of 
Poland's Jews were unemployed, that one-quarter were on the 
verge of starvation, and that 70,000 Jewish merchants and 12,000 
industrialists had closed the doors of such businesses as they had. 
In 1937, 40 per cent of the Jewish population applied for Passover 

This economic picture was matched in grimness by the social 
one. The government that came into power after Pilsudski's death 
in 1935 was controlled by a cHque of army officers and aristocratic 
politicians who, to win popularity, tended to become increasingly 
anti-Semitic. To the boycott of Jewish shops were added almost 
daily attacks on Jews, punctuated by occasional pogroms. It has 
been estimated that between 1935 and 1939, 350 Jews were killed 
and 500 wounded in anti-Semitic incidents. According to another 
tally 118 Jews were killed and 1,350 wounded between 1935 and 
1937 in 348 'violent mass assaults on Jews'. = 

The only positive idea proposed by the Camp on Poland's 



'Jewish problem' was that this hated minority should emigrate. 
Unfortunately, no country was prepared to take them except 
Palestine, and although Palestine could receive some tens of thous- 
ands, it could not accept the much greater numbers who were 
every bit as eager to leave Poland as that country's ruling body 
was to see them go. 

JCA in Poland, 19i9-22 

Before the Treaty of Versailles Poland's Jewish population made 
up somewhat more than half the Jews living under the Czar's 
rule. Thus, a large part of JCA's activity in pre-war Russia had 
been carried out in an area that was now the major portion of the 
new Poland. A country that had been the scene of such intense 
JCA activity was bound to receive the maximum possible atten- 
tion from the organisation once communications could be reop- 
ened. This happened, if incompletely, in 1919, and the JCA report 
for 1920 has a full section on efforts in Poland. These efforts 
amounted to a full-scale build-up of JCA's operations, interrupted 
by the Russo-Polish War of 1920-21 but quickly resumed with 
the end of hostilities. 

When JCA's Paris office re-established contact with Poland, it 
found somewhat to its surprise that some JCA interests there had 
survived the war. Chief among these were the vocational schools 
in Warsaw, Vilna, Czenstoniev and Czestochowa. The Da'ath 
Society of Warsaw was still running four elementary schools. 
Communication being what it was, Paris was unable to fmd out 
whether the farm school in Czenstoniev was operating or not. 
Word was received, however, that another farm school at 
Slobodka-Lesna in Galicia had been severely damaged. As for the 
fate of the kassas, here too no information could be obtained but 
JCA was already seeking to have a survey made and a reorganis- 
ation plan set up. 

JCA's operations recommenced in a rather scattered fashion, 
and this unevenness was exacerbated by the upheavals of the 
Russo-Polish War. Thus, on Grysbowski Street in Warsaw work- 
shops belonging to a JCA vocational school were occupied by the 
mihtary, whereas another school on Stawski Street was 
unaffected. With help from JCA, the Da'ath organisation 
continued operating its four Warsaw primary schools, while also 
paying for the tuition of bright students at higher schools. The 
Lodz vocational school was taken over by the PoHsh army but 
was returned in November 1920 to JCA, which planned recon- 
struction. The Vilna school was in good shape, and the pupils it 



trained were apparently able to find jobs. This school had been 
aided by the Vilna kassa during the First World War, but now 
the kassa was wholly without fiinds. Vilna, it will be recalled, 
was the site of two fair-rent blocks of flats erected by JCA before 
the war; now these buildings were in deplorable condition and 
the community wanted to convert them into an orphanage. The 
town of Piotrkov had an active kassa which JCA planned to 
expand to a membership of 2,000. Many of the GaHcian kassas 
had been destroyed, and some survived only to perish during the 
Russo-Polish conflict; in many cases the furniture and even the 
buildings themselves had disappeared. However, a handful had 
escaped major damage, and by 1920 the Cracow institution was 
back in business. 

Before the war JCA had owned three agricultural estates in 
what was now Poland, using them as farm schools, land for 
tenant farmers or farms worked by paid labourers with a view to 
a financial return. At Czestochowa, in addition to the vocational 
institution, there had been a gardening school; this was now 
rehabilitated and its buildings repaired. The Czenstoniev farm, it 
was found, was closed. Its machinery had been badly damaged 
and, for the time being, it was not being worked because agricul- 
tural wages were high and prices low. Slobodka-Lesna, site not 
only of the farm school but also of a large property producing 
enough potatoes to supply the needs of a profitable alcohol distil- 
lery, had suffered severely but by 1921 its wells had been cleared, 
new livestock purchased, the buildings largely restored and 75 
per cent of the pre-war acreage resown. 

Although Russian Poland had been occupied by Germany in 
1915, ORT committees had continued to function there, as in 
Russia proper, throughout the war. In the early post-war period, 
JCA, having no infrastructure in the country, worked through 
ORT in supplying artisans with tools and materials. A large 
consignment of United States army surplus was purchased in 
France at favourable prices and sent to Poland, where ORT took 
care of distribution. The Organisation was further able, on its 
own, to make some farm machinery available in the Vilna and 
Minsk areas, and to make loans to individual Jewish farmers and 
co-operatives in the vicinity of Grodno and in the Vilna region. 

Poland at peace 

The year 1921 found Poland finally at peace after more than six 
years of almost uninterrupted war. Peace, however, was the only 
blessing the country could count. As the JCA report for that year 



noted, the population was in misery, industry was at a standstill, 
the rate of exchange was extraordinarily low and interest therefore 
extraordinarily high, sometimes as much as 300 per cent per 
annum. Such were the circumstances dictating the orientation of 
JCA's efforts to sustain Poland's Jews. 

Activities were to be organised under three main heads: (1) aid 
to Jewish farmers, (2) aid to vocational schools, and (3) provision 
of credit, chiefly through loan kassas. Under the first head, 1921 
saw the completion of rebuilding at the Slobodka-Lesna estate, 
where, thanks to a loan from the Agricultural Bank of Lvov, top- 
quality seed had been obtained and planted, although the crop 
was reduced somewhat by the effects of hot weather and drought; 
also, a wooded area neglected during the war was cleaned up and 
new trees were planted. At Czestochowa, by contrast, rehabilit- 
ation had not yet reached a point where the school could be 
reopened. In the major activity of making loans to farmers the 
Association was still using ORT as an intermediary in the Vilna 
area. In this way advances were made to 747 families and five co- 
operatives for the purchase of seed and implements. JCA on its 
own made no fewer than 1,535 loans in the region around Grodno 
and Pinsk - loans that were to all intents and purposes gifts. 

In its approach to vocational education, JCA's aim was to turn 
out what it called artisans d'elite - people so qualified that their 
capacities would be generally acknowledged and their employ- 
ment assured. As the later record shows, this goal was largely 
attained; for, when the Polish government imposed the testing of 
various skills as a prerequisite to undertaking paid work, 95 to 
99 per cent of the graduates of JCA training schools passed. Even 
in the very depressed years of the 1930s these young people were 
usually able to find employment, although for the most part, it 
must be said, in Jewish establishments. 

In carrying out this part of its programme JCA in 1921 helped 
to pay the expenses of seven schools - in Warsaw, Lodz and Vilna 
among other places - and was preparing to support six more. The 
main occupations taught for boys were metalworking, electro- 
mechanics, tailoring, housepainting and lithography; and for girls, 
dressmaking, embroidery and the sewing of lingerie. JCA's report 
stressed that many of the schools were still badly in need of 

In an interesting sideline to its activities in the vocational field, 
JCA gave financial assistance to a newly estabhshed rabbinical 
seminary in Warsaw. Its curriculum, in addition to rehgious 
instruction, included PoHsh language and history as well as Latin, 
German, geography and the natural sciences. It was hoped that 
graduates, as 'modern' rabbis, would be able more effectively to 



represent the community than the more traditional ones, whose 
education was strictly hmited to Talmud and Torah. 

Since the interest rate on such credit as was available was still 
around 250 per cent, JCA was naturally anxious to re-establish 
the kassas as soon as possible. The system was in complete 
disarray and had to be reconstructed and supphed with credit, 
there being no deposits for the kassas to draw on since the local 
population had no funds with which to make them. By the end 
of 1922, 30 kassas were operational in the central region and 21 
in Galicia. To the north, in the Vilna region, 36 resurgent kassas 
were able to borrow from an institution called the Popular Bank 
of Vilna, established by a group of co-operative societies, credit 
co-operatives and consumers' and producers' organisations. The 
kassas charged their members from 12 to 18 per cent on loans - 
a far cry indeed from the ruhng rate. Taken together, the three 
areas had 87 active kassas, with 57,000 members. 

The importance and efficiency of the institution of the kassa 
had very much impressed JCA's Director-General, Emile 
Meyerson, who made two visits of inspection to Poland in 1921. 
He wrote: 

I cannot tell you how heartening an impression I carried away. 
These are truly little nuclei full of life. It is certain that this 
form of relief is the most prompt and most direct; it is also 
that form which the interested parties best know and best 

It is worth noting that the typical loan offered through this form 
of relief was amazingly small: the largest ran to some 50,000 
Polish marks, equivalent at the time to $30, or between £6 and 
£7 sterling. 

One other sphere of JCA activity that deserves mention is 
housing. During the war years many houses near the front had 
been burnt or ripped apart for beams to shore up trenches. Yet 
the inhabitants had in many cases returned and were trying to 
reconstruct their former homes. Thus it was that JCA, in conjunc- 
tion with an organisation called EKOPO (Jewish Committee for 
the Relief of War Victims), which received financing from 
American groups, made loans to 150 families to rebuild houses 
in towns near Vilna. In 1922 JCA greatly increased its aid to 
EKOPO, enabling this organisation to make construction loans 
to 900 famihes, comprising about 5,000 people, in 51 localities. 

In another development in the area of housing, JCA decided to 
renovate the two former fair-rent blocks of flats in Vilna, one as 
an orphanage, as the community had requested, and the other as 
dwellings for white-collar workers. 



JCA and JDC 

As in the USSR, JCA was not working alone in Poland in the 
post-war period, for JDC was also active there. Though agreed 
on the goal - the rehabilitation of Poland's Jews - the two organis- 
ations differed both in the way they were financed and in their 
philosophies. JDC was supported by annual fund-raising drives 
and thus did not have the obhgation that JCA felt to husband the 
capital of a fixed endowment. Consequently, JDC could more 
easily afford to take a 'charity' view of its expenditures than JCA 
and could enter such 'unremunerative' areas as health and child 
care, including, for example, sending some 100,000 Polish Jewish 
children to summer camp. And, as we shall see, JDC's flexibility 
also allowed it to make interest-free credit available to the most 
distressed sector of Polish Jewry. Despite this difference of 
emphasis, however, the two organisations were sufficiently 
mature to collaborate effectively in some fields, to take separate 
paths in others, and successfully to avoid fruitless duplication of 

In the vocational area, for instance, JCA by the end of 1922 
had under its wing nineteen schools with a total attendance of 
1,500. Since JDC was likewise interested in vocational training 
the two organisations agreed to divide the work. JCA undertook 
to cover deficits in the schools' operating expenses, while JDC 
would supply all needed machinery and teaching equipment - no 
small burden, in view of the special needs of vocational schools. 

JCA and JDC also decided to collaborate in another sphere of 
great concern to both, namely the provision of credit for the hard- 
pressed Jewish small traders and artisans through the medium of 
loan kassas. In June 1922 a joint committee was formed, staffed 
by representatives of both agencies, whose task was to inspect 
each applicant institution and pass on its findings to its principals. 
At this time the kassas were grouped into four geographical 
districts, a measure necessitated by the great increase in their 
numbers, and hence in the number of loans made. For example, 
in the Old Kingdom 61,766 loans were made in 1922 as compared 
with 9,599 in 1921; and m Galicia, 8,817 as against 3,608. 

JCA's activity in Poland was now almost back to its pre-war 
level. Together with JDC, it was supporting a comprehensive 
system of vocational education and was supervising and financing 
a network of about 200 kassas. JCA had assumed full responsi- 
bility for the programme of aid to Jewish farmers and was plan- 
ning to extend this work. The rehabilitation of the farm schools 
was virtually complete: at Slobodka-Lesna the burned distillery 
had been replaced; Czestochowa was operating with 30 students 



and was fully supplied with animals and tools; Czenstoniev, 
though far from completely restored, had livestock and produced 
crops, and on the site was a school with 58 students; lastly, the 
Stanislavov school had opened its doors to 40 orphans. 


A new direction taken by JCA in 1922 was the launching, against 
opposition from both parents and unions, of a successful appren- 
ticeship programme. Under this scheme boys and girls learned a 
wide range of skills while at the same time attending night school 
in order to acquire the rudiments of a general education. JCA 
paid the employers for the provision of the training, as well as 
remunerating parents, presumably for the loss of the child's services. 
Starting out with 300 apprentices in four cities, the programme 
had expanded by 1928 to eight cities and over 1,600 apprentices. 

The 'Foundation' 

All was not smooth sailing in these years, however. The Polish 
mark underwent drastic depreciation and was replaced in 1924 by 
the zloty, which had a nominal value of 1 gold franc ($0.20). This 
rate held firm for a time, making it possible for JCA and JDC to 
continue financing the kassas after loans in marks had become 
impossible because they would lose all value between the signing 
of the documents and delivery of the funds. The kassas staggered 
under the strain of first devaluation and then revaluation, but the 
monetary support and the supervision supplied by JCA and JDC 
preserved the system as a whole, albeit in a weakened state. 
Surveyed in 1924, 109 kassas were declared to be in a satisfactory 
situation, 55 were put under further observation and 50 were 
deemed incapable of continuing. Membership declined very 
substantially, from 104,500 in 1923 to 62,000 a year later. 

In May 1924 JCA and JDC, having decided to place their 
collaboration as lenders on a more formal footing, established the 
American Joint Reconstruction Foundation (generally referred to 
as 'the Foundation') as a loan and inspection agency for the kassas. 
$3 million of its capital came from JDC, $2 million from JCA. 
As time went on, the Foundation extended its operations to as 
many as 15 European countries, but the main focus of its attention 
was always Poland. 

The Foundation's co-directors were Bernard Kahn of JDC and 
Louis Oungre of JCA. It was governed by a Board drawn from 
JCA and JDC plus representatives of the Jews in Poland, Lithuania 



and Bessarabia. These 'outsiders' were supposed to include labour 
and business nominees, as well as an Orthodox Jew and a Zionist, 
although the last two never attended board meetings. In the 1930s 
the labour representatives clashed with JCA and JDC, more 
particularly the latter, ostensibly over the question of loan policy. 
In reality, the conflict arose from personality differences and 
power rivalries. The arguments ended when the labour represen- 
tatives resigned.^ 

The period between 1925 and the onset of the Great Depression, 
though characterised in the main by improving economic condi- 
tions, began with a down-turn. The revaluation of the zloty was 
a mixed blessing, for it caused a rise in the cost of living. This 
was aggravated by a poor harvest. The resulting crisis and unem- 
ployment hit Jews especially hard. 

These economic vicissitudes were naturally reflected in each of 
the three principal spheres of JCA activity - aid to farmers, voca- 
tional education and the kassa credit system. 

Aid to farmers 

By this timeJCA's programme of aid to farmers was well estab- 
lished in the central provinces of Bialystok and Polesie and 
expanding fast in the Vilna area, where 1,300 Jewish families were 
in dire need of help. In 1925, 764 farmers in that region received 
JCA aid in the form of loans for seed, livestock, tools, trees and 
fencing; and professional advice on modern methods of using 
machinery and fertiliser was provided for the backward farmers 
by a corps of roving JCA agronomists. These efforts continued 
as the economic picture improved. Thus, in 1927 JCA made 
1,535 loans to farmers and in the following year, 2,000 loans. In 
addition, the Association donated agricultural machinery to some 
farmers, and an agricultural library was even established to further 
the modernisation efforts. 

Vocational schools 

For the JCA-JDC vocational schools, this period opened with a 
critical situation, as local contributions began to decline with 
the tall of the newly created zloty, obliging JCA to increase its 
contributions. Likewise, takings of the sales ateliers operated by 
some of the schools fell, so here also JCA had to step into the 
breach. Attendance at the vocational schools in 1925 started out 
at 2,156, but 23 per cent of the pupils dropped out because they 
lacked the means to pay even the partial fees asked of them. Half 
of these drop-outs were however able to fmdjobs in their trades. 



From the standpoint of the Jewish population, a significant 
event of 1926 was the passage of legislation requiring artisans to 
obtain certificates attesting to their skills and general knowledge 
before being allowed to continue to ply their trade. This seem- 
ingly innocent regulation wreaked cruel havoc among older 
Jewish craftsmen: a lifelong cobbler, for instance, had to pass a 
test requiring knowledge of Pohsh history and the Polish language 
before he could mend a pair of boots. ^ For the young, the best 
way of obtaining certification of this kind was to attend a vocat- 
ional school. 

With the turning economic tide, JCA was able by 1927-8 to 
reduce its share of operating costs to 31 per cent, and this trend 
continued as municipal and state authorities increased their 

The teaching in the vocational schools concentrated on 'real 
work' and the production of goods for sale. The output was 
remarkably varied: the metalwork classes, for instance, turned 
out hammers, saws, axes and safes, while the woodworkers sold 
tables, beds and wardrobes. The flexibility of the system is shown 
by the fact that, even in 1925, amid financial crisis, new courses 
were started in motor mechanics and driving. 

The kassa system 

In 1925 the Foundation was making twice-yearly inspections of 
197 kassas. As many as 200,000 loans were made that year, princi- 
pally to artisans and small tradesmen. These loans were still very 
small, averaging 130 zlotys, or about £5 or £6. The figures for 
the next year (295 kassas, 258,000 loans) reflect both the incipient 
general economic turn-around and the Foundation's resolve to 
expand the kassa system as quickly as possible since Jewish 
tradesmen and artisans had virtually no other sources of credit. 
The Foundation did not normally lend direcdy to the kassas but 
rather through intermediaries such as the Popular Bank of Vilna 
or the Co-operative Bank of Warsaw. 

The expansion continued, and even accelerated, in 1927, in 
which year some 150 new loan institutions opened their doors 
(see Table 10.3 for figures on the kassa system). 

Other activities 

With its procedure for supervising the kassas well estabhshed, the 
Foundation branched out in two directions: financial assistance 
for what it called 'middle-sized' businesses on the one hand, 
and the estabhshment of artisans' co-operatives on the other. As 



regards the former, the Foundation set up 'banks' designed to 
make loans to people who operated on a larger scale than kassa 
borrowers. Table 10.1 gives some data on the growth of this 
system. Gradually, as these banks were able to obtain credit from 
the Polish State Bank, their calls on the Foundation decreased. 

Table 10.1 Banks for middle-sized businesses 

Year Number of banks Membership 






















Source: relevant JCA Annual Reports. 

As for the co-operatives set up by the Foundation, the first of 
these, established around 1925, were in Warsaw; they comprised 
18 consumer co-operatives, 5 producers' co-operatives, and 4 
printing and publishing co-operatives. Their aggregate 
membership was 7,000. A year or two later the Foundation 
financed a 355-member umbrella organisation which bought raw 
materials for the co-operatives and also offered them credit, legal 
advice and general supervision. By this time the movement as a 
whole embraced 33 co-operatives with over 10,000 members; it 
had spread from Warsaw to many other cities and included 33 
cuisines populaires (presumably restaurants for working people) and 
five bakeries. Since no further record of these eating places exists, 
we may assume that they did not survive very long. 

Free Loan Societies 

While the 'average' artisan was being served by the kassas and 
the middle-sized businessman by the Foundation's special banks, 
there still remained a mass of Jewish workers and tradespeople, 
numbering in the hundreds of thousands, who were too poor 
even to scrape together the $5 or so minimum deposit for joining 
a kassa. The Foundation, working on the principle that loans 
should be handled, at least ostensibly, in a businesslike manner, 
could not see its way clear to assisting this poorer class. The JCA 
position was similar. JDC, however, with its greater freedom of 
manoeuvre, and bolstered by a particularly successful fund-raising 
campaign, accepted the challenge by setting up in 1926 the first 
in a chain of Free Loan Societies (Hebrew: Gemilluth Chassodim), 



which lent money either without interest or at purely nominal 
rates. This was in fact a traditional way of helping the poor in 
the Jewish world. In 1938 these societies made 221,000 loans. 
Assuming that each borrower took three loans per year (which 
we know to be true of kassa borrowers in the early 1920s), we 
arrive at the rough-and-ready estimate that some 75,000 Jewish 
families in Poland benefited from this programme in that last year 
before the German invasion. 

Onset of the Great Depression, 1929-30 

Post-war Poland was not destined to enjoy even semi-prosperity 
for long. As a nation she was liable to suffer disproportionately 
from any decline in world agricultural prices, and one of the first 
indicators heralding the Great Depression was the fall in farm 
prices. With the reduction in their incorne, Polish peasants 
restricted their purchases. This in turn hit their traditional 
suppliers, Jewish artisans and small tradesmen, whose lack of 
business added them to the ranks of the unemployed in the midst 
of an already general economic slow-down. A very cold winter 
in 1929-30 did nothing to help matters: the temperature was so 
low that many cows died, dairy farmers could not produce milk, 
and potatoes, vegetables and grain could not be harvested. JCA 
naturally resolved to help farmers in the most seriously affected 
areas. It made 1,970 loans in 36 localities in central Poland, while 
its agronomists tried to encourage farmers to save their trees, to 
revive the dairy industry, and to use manure and fertilisers to 
improve their crops' chances of survival. 

In 1929, 94 per cent of vocational school graduates passed their 
public examinations, and despite the hard times most of them 
were able to find jobs in Jewish firms. By now there were 2,512 
students in these schools. But income generated locally by the 
schools was quickly affected by the Depression, so that once again 
the larger part of the expenses had to be assumed by JCA. The 
Association's other vocational endeavour, the apprenticeship 
programme, was meanwhile extended to one more city, bringing 
the total to nine and the number of participants to 1,046 boys and 
147 girls. 

The Jews' main sources of credit were the banks for middle- 
sized businesses, the kassas and the Free Loan Societies. The kassas 
themselves depended on the Foundation for about four-fifths of 
their borrowing and on local sources like the state banks for the 
remainder. In 1929 the Jewish kassas numbered 450, with 180,000 
members and outstanding loans totalHng 233 milUon zloty, or 



about £5 million.' In view of the parlous state of business and the 
danger of losing membership, the kassas began to make loans 
against borrowers' accounts due. 

The co-operatives sponsored by the Foundation did not fare as 
well as the network of banks for middle-sized businesses, and 
some were forced into liquidation. The co-operative movement 
received a not altogether welcome boost when a law requiring 
that dough be kneaded mechanically prompted bakers to form 
associations and come to the Foundation for financing. 

The next year, 1930, saw the beginning of JCA's long-planned 
expansion of its farm aid programme into southern Poland. The 
Association's agronomists had been in the Lvov, Stanislavov and 
Tarnopol areas since the year before, gathering information. 
According to their count there were still 4,500 Jewish farmers in 
Galicia (as compared with some 8,000 before the Great War, 
military action having driven many from the region). JCA now 
set up its programme around Lvov and Stanislavov, planning to 
tackle the rest of Galicia later. In the central provinces, meanwhile, 
the Association was trying to establish dairy co-operatives and 
was donating equipment in an attempt to introduce apiculture. 

The graduates of the vocational schools continued to do well 
in the public examinations despite the obstacles placed in the way 
of Jewish applicants. As anticipated, older artisans had difficulty 
in passing those of the tests dealing with design technology and 
legal matters, as well as with Polish history and geography. To 
help such people JCA subsidised special courses at vocational 
schools which drew 120 students. 

The kassa system continued to grow: in 1930, 488 kassas made 
346,000 loans. If we assume (as we did in evaluating the contribu- 
tion of the Free Loan Societies) that the average member took 
three loans in the course of a year, 115,000 Jewish families would 
have obtained credit from the kassas during the year; this means 
that the system served more than one-fifth of Polish Jewry. A 
large portion of the remainder obtained credit from the Free Loan 
Societies, while a relatively small number were able to deal with 
the businessmen's banks. And of course, farmers also received 
loans under JCA's farm aid programmes. In all, 40 to 50 per cent 
of Polish Jewish families were benefiting at this point - possibly 
the highest point reached - from the credit networks established 
by JCA and JDC and by their offspring, the Foundation. 

But this large extension of credit, and especially the acceptance 
by the kassas of accounts due as security for loans, caused strains 
between the Foundation's Western-minded officials and the PoHsh 
beneficiaries of what the Westerners looked upon as their largesse. 
It was felt that the Central Bank for Co-operatives through which 



the Foundation operated had been too easygoing in its supervision 
of the individual kassas in allowing them to assume responsibility 
for their borrowers' accounts due, and, further, that it charged 
too high an interest rate to its kassa members. In the early 1930s, 
therefore, the Foundation forced the dissolution of this bank and 
prohibited the kassas from lending money against uncollected 
accounts. '° 

A holding action 

The next years saw no lessening of the economic crisis. For Jews 
the effects of the crisis were everywhere aggravated by official 
and unofficial anti-Semitism, so widespread and deep-seated that 
JCA and the Foundation never really had any prospect of effecting 
more than a holding action. These organisations had it within 
their power to alleviate symptoms - and they did so valiantly - 
but such were the social and economic forces arrayed against them 
that cure was quite beyond their capability. 

Paradoxically, because of discrimination, the government's 
steps to offset the effects of the Depression often affected Jews 
adversely. Thus, the granting of moratoria on debts owed by 
peasants hurt the Jewish artisans and tradesmen, who could not 
collect money due to them but still had to meet their own obliga- 
tions. Similarly, the government's encouragement of the develop- 
ment of co-operatives while excluding Jews from them created 
competition that was harmful to Jewish traders. The 
government's attitude towards shopkeepers, tradesmen and 
middlemen in general was curiously ambivalent. According to its 
aristocratic and retrograde ideology, middlemen served no useful 
economic purpose. But this did not prevent the authorities from 
giving displaced peasants posts in its co-operatives or in the state 
alcohol and tobacco monopolies, where the hiring of Jews was in 
principle prohibited. In practice, these job-holders unofficially 
subcontracted their responsibilities to Jews, who, given the unem- 
ployment situation, were happy to work for much less than the 
official wage, the difference going to their 'benefactors'." 

The attempt to create a non-Jewish middle class by transplant- 
ing surplus agricultural population to urban centres was another 
blow to the Jewish tradesmen. In JCA's rather desperate search 
to find some solution to the problem, it conceived the notion of 
placing some of the tradesmen on farms - not that a farmer's hfe 
was very rewarding in Poland during the Depression, but at least 
he usually had enough to eat. Furthermore this idea was consistent 
with the Baron de Hirsch's beliefs. Accordingly, in the early 1930s 
JCA organised lectures on the rudiments of farming for some 



hundreds of city dwellers. Many applied for places as farmers and 
some did become such in a small way. But obviously, only a 
very small number were able to take this way out. By 1936 JCA 
was still thinking along the same lines, increasing its staff of 
agronomists and enlarging its agricultural loan programme in 
order to help people to use the plots around their houses for 
growing vegetables, starting small orchards or keeping bees. 

Dr Bernard Kahn of JDC had the more ambitious idea of 
'industriahsing' Pohsh Jewry by setting up factories under Jewish 
control where Jews could find employment. Unfortunately, Dr 
Kahn never found the funds to get this project off the drawing 
board, for the Depression's effect on JDC, dependent as ever on 
fund-raising, was to cut its receipts from $3.5 million in 1928 to 
$385,000 in 1932, and its expenditure was reduced accordingly. 

In the circumstances, there was nothing for the two big relief 
organisations to do but soldier on. They simply did not have the 
resources to effect any major change in the lives of 3 million 
Polish Jews. Nor was there any place, now that the British were 
closing the door to Palestine, whither large numbers might 
emigrate. (In 1936 only 1,200 Pohsh Jews reached Palestine. It is 
doubtful in any case whether Palestine would have been able to 
absorb any significant fraction of Polish Jewry.) 

Aid to farmers 

JCA's agronomists continued their work, making loans, giving 
instruction in modern farming methods, promoting apiculture, 
and helping to organise groups for teaching purposes as well as 
to facilitate collective representation in dealing with the authori- 
ties. By 1931 this work was well under way in the Stanislavov 
area, where the Jewish farm population was about 7,500. Condi- 
tions for some of them seemed not to have changed since the 
days of serfdom, while others were quite well acquainted with 
modern agricultural practices. In any event, JCA, through the 
media of farm co-operatives and eight kassas, made 691 loans to 
farmers in Galicia in 1931. 

The perversely hard winters of the early 1930s added to the 
woes caused by low farm prices. JCA sought to combat these 
conditions by developing co-operatives among Jewish farmers, 
who were excluded from government-sponsored co-operatives. 
Some indication of its success may be found in the fact that in 
1937 JCA was working, in the Lvov area alone, with eleven 
dairy and eight agricultural co-operatives. The Association was 
particularly proud of a dairymen's co-operative known as Chema, 



which set up a casein factory and - its main achievement - oper- 
ated six successful dairy stores, four of them in the city of Lodz. 
This co-operative survived the hard Depression years and was 
still functioning, though encountering distribution difficulties, in 

In the sphere of farmers' aid programmes, JCA not only 
pursued its traditional forms of activity throughout these years 
but considerably intensified its efforts. Table 10.2 gives an idea 
of JCA's activities from 1922 to 1937 for the benefit of the Jewish 
farmers, of whom there were about 7,500 in Poland. 

Table 10.2 JCA farm loan and vocational work in Poland 

Year Number of Attendance Number of 

farm loans at JCA apprenticeships 

Poland Galicia schools* 










































* In 1927 JCA contributed 31 per cent of operating costs (1,240,007 zloty) to 
the vocational schools; in 1937 it contributed 33 per cent (756,367 zloty). 
"f Figure not available. 
Source: relevant JCA Annual Reports. 

This is perhaps an appropriate place to note that by 1937 no 
mention is to be found in JCA's annual report of the four farm 
schools of which so much was made in the early 1920s. We 
assume that most of these estates had by this time been sold off 
or otherwise disposed of We know however from post-war 
records that Slobodka-Lesna, at least, survived until it was 
overrun during the Second World War. It was located within the 
territory annexed by the USSR, and JCA was able to establish a 
claim through the Foreign Compensation Commission in London 
and secure restitution of a part of the value of the assets lost. 

Vocational education 

As local contributions to the vocational schools dwindled, JCA's 
contributions increased. These and a devoted teaching staff kept 
the schools going during the 1930s. It was now noticeable that 



those attending vocational schools often included holders of 
college degrees, or graduates of lycees, who were learning a trade 
so as to have at least a chance of finding a job. Throughout this 
decade, as in earlier years, nearly all graduating pupils passed their 
public qualifying examinations and were generally able to secure 
employment in their chosen trade. But this fortunate outcome 
awaited a few hundred people per year at the very most. 

Like the farm aid programmes, JCA-sponsored vocational 
education continued to expand throughout the decade, in spite of 
financial problems. By 1937 fourteen schools with a total enrol- 
ment of 2, 165 were assisted by JCA, which underwrote one-third 
of their budget. In that year, in a departure from its normal 
practice, the Association also paid for repairs to buildings, the 
improvement of workshops or the purchase of new machines for 
seven of the schools in the system. 

JCA's apprenticeship programme also expanded throughout the 
1930s, so that by 1938 the number of participants reached 3,102, 
including students attending night courses. This activity, which 
had initially met with opposition from some unions, was now 
organised with their help, together with that of community and 
educational organisations. Again, however, it should be borne in 
mind that, even had every one of these apprentices succeeded in 
obtaining a job, it would still have constituted a mere drop in the 
enormous bucket of unemployment among Polish Jews. 

Table 10.2 gives attendance figures for both the vocational 
schools and the apprenticeship programme throughout the years 
of their existence. It should be added that, beginning in 1934, 
JCA subsidised 45 short courses at its vocational schools designed 
to help young Jews wishing to become artisans. By 1936-7 these 
courses had 580 students and were offered in ten cities. 

Decline of the kassas 

Whereas JCA's farm and vocational work weathered the Depres- 
sion with some success, the period had a disastrous impact on the 
kassas; 1929 and 1930 turned out to be the years of maximum 
extent of the kassa system (see Table 10.3). This high point of 
kassa lending already contained the seeds of decline, for many of 
these loans would not be repaid on time, if ever. 

In 1936 and 1937 world farm prices at last began to creep 
upwards, and Polish farm prices followed suit. The country was 
embarked on a semi-recovery, and this is reflected in the slight 
improvement in the situation of the Polish kassa system in 1937, 
the last year for which JCA printed a full report on the subject. 



In this, our last glimpse of the Polish kassas as a working machine, 
we find the Foundation operating through a new organisation 
which it had helped to create, the Central Credit Co-operative. 
Apart firom the Foundation-sponsored kassa network, 87 active 
kassas belonged to the Agudah Organisation in Poland. Although 
these were technically outside the Foundation's ambit, the Found- 
ation inspected a number of them in 1937, and some received 
loans from the Central Credit Co-operative. Another 45 Jewish 
kassas were unaffiliated with any national organisation. 

Table 10.3 The 

Polish kassas 











of loans 
































































* Approximate figure, 
f Figure not available. 
Source: relevant JCA Annual Reports. 

Businessmen's banks 

The fortunes of the Foundation's banks for middle-sized busi- 
nesses during the 1930s mirrored those of the kassas, except that 
these banks had significantly recovered from the effects of the 
Depression by 1937 (see Table 10.1). The Depression's first effect 
had been to increase the banks' business: deposits in 1930 increased 
by 14 per cent. But repayment on loans was slow, and before 
long the Foundation had to determine which banks were in a 
position to continue operations. Twelve went bankrupt in 1931 
(though three others opened their doors for the first time). In the 
years 1930-3 the effects of the economic crisis were dramatic: 
membership fell from 20,000 to 6,000. Thereafter, however, the 
banks began to make slow but steady headway. By 1937 loans 
had reached the respectable total of 118.5 milhon zlotys (about 
$22 milhon), much more than total kassa loans to small tradesmen 
and artisans. It should be borne in mind that by far the largest 
part of the funds borrowed by these agencies came from the Bank 



of Poland and private banks; in 1934, for example, only one-tenth 
of borrowing was from the Foundation. 

In justice, it should be recorded that by 1939 the government 
had eased its anti-Semitic campaign in order to curry favour with 
its Western European protectors, but this welcome change came 
too late. Also too late was a general upswing in the economy 
resulting from an enlarged pubhc works programme. 

We cannot leave the subject of Polish Jewry without recalling 
the 'statistic' that overshadows all others, and puts all the aid that 
we have been discussing into a very different context: this is the 
fact that, according to one well-known estimate, only 240,000 
Polish Jews survived the Second World War out of a pre-war 
total of 3.3 million. '2 

We have seen how at least half the Jewish population of Poland 
was helped in one way or another between 1920 and 1939 by 
JCA, JDC and the Foundation. We shall now offer a brief account 
of the operations of these agencies in other countries in Eastern 

The Baltic countries 

Activities in the Baltic states fell into two categories: vocational 
education and loan kassas. In the former sphere, JCA learned in 
1922 that the Jewish community in Riga, Latvia, wanted to reopen 
its vocational school. By the end of that year, thanks to JCA aid 
and JDC grants for the purchase of machinery, these wishes were 
realised. Similarly, in Dvinsk (Dailgovpils), also in Latvia, where 
the Jewish vocational school had been used as a hospital during 
the war, JDC assistance made reopening possible in 1920, and by 
1922 JCA was also contributing. 

Both these schools continued to receive JCA subventions until 
the outbreak of the Second World War, and both were quite 
successful. Such was the reputation of the Riga school that almost 
5C of its 100 students came from outside the country, from 
Estonia and Lithuania. During the 1930s the school built and sold 
a variety of complex machines and supplied equipment to the 
government post, telephone and telegraph departments, as well as 
to other national and municipal government entities. The Dvinsk 
school, which had been founded in 1887, won a gold medal in 
1936 for the excellence of its farm implements. These schools 
played an important part in the hfe of Latvia's 90,000 Jews, and 


7a Kishinev, Bessarabia, 1920s. Trade school 

7b Poland, 1925. Trade school 



^■F ^^^^^a I ' >. 




1^ "\r\ 



^S?v v^(A ^^ 




' '^w..^ < 

^^^^^^^^1 «' ^^^^^^^H 


1 \ 





. * 


A f 

- i 1^ 


8a Petrovka, Bessarabia, 1920s. Jewish farmer and son 

8b Petrovl<a, Bessarabia, 1924. Wine-making 


flourished despite an official anti-Semitism nearly as virulent as 

In Lithuania JCA's vocational activity centred on a school in 
Kovno (Kaunas) which received aid from ORT in 1921 and direct 
assistance from JCA from 1922 onwards. In that year the school 
had 58 pupils. In addition, JCA financial aid had enabled ORT 
to set up an apprenticeship programme with 65 participants, the 
boys in tailoring and shoemaking and the girls in dressmaking. 

When the Foundation commenced operations in 1924, apart 
from Poland's vast network of kassas and the many small loan 
agencies in Bessarabia, there were 83 kassas in Lithuania, with a 
combined membership of 24,000. These were financed by the 
Central Bank of Kovno. Latvia had 16 kassas with 8,373 
members. Estonia had one small kagsa at Narva. 

The size of the Lithuanian kassa movement is surprising when 
one considers the country's comparlatively small Jewish minority 
of about 153,000 people, 7.5 per ceht of the total population; but 
perhaps the community's unusually high level of education and 
sophistication had something to do with it. In any event, when 
the Central Bank of Kovno, because of difficulties in meeting its 
own obligations, was obliged in 1926 to begin calling in its loans 
to the kassas, the Foundation came to their rescue. The finance 
thus provided enabled the kassas to weather the crisis, and by 
1930 they presented an almost rosy picture; in that year 88 active 
institutions made 68,000 loans totalling $5,552,117. 

The Depression had serious effects in the Baltic states, as else- 
where. In Latvia, where in 1931 23 kassas made 57,000 loans 
totalling $2 million, there was a panic run on the banks, kassas 
included. The Foundation felt obliged to keep the system afloat 
in view of its importance to the Jewish community (which 
numbered 95,000 out of a total national population of 1.6 million). 
And in this aim it succeeded, although it considered it necessary 
to prohibit kassa loans unbacked by equivalent funds in deposits. 
The Lithuanian agencies also ran into trouble at this time, though 
for extrinsic reasons: the banking system in Lithuania was closely 
involved with that of Germany, and when German banks got 
into difficulties in 1930-1 the Lithuanians also lost money. But 
things did not degenerate to the point of panic, and the Found- 
ation protected itself by dealing only with kassas that adhered 
strictly to its prudential rules. 

As the Depression gradually passed, the situation of the Baltic 
kassas improved, and they continued in operation, rather unev- 
entfully, until the Hitler-Stalin Pact led to the absorption of the 
httle Baltic states into the USSR in 1939-40. 



The Foundation and the kassa system, 1924—39 

While the two parent organisations were equally responsible for 
both the direction and the financing of the Foundation, its head- 
quarters were at JDC's offices in Berlin. Apart from the 
commendable desire to eliminate needless duplication of effort, 
JDC probably had another motive when it agreed to the setting 
up of the Foundation in 1924; for JDC's New York principals 
had long cherished the hope that, once the immediate post-war 
relief needs of European Jewry had been met, the situation might 
become stable enough, and the Jewish communities independent 
enough, for JDC simply to close down. In all likelihood it was 
felt in 1924 that the projected Foundation, together with JCA, 
might safely be left, once that moment arrived, to 'clean up' after 
JDC's dissolution. (These were no more than dreams, of course: 
JDC was fully occupied during the entire inter-war period; it 
mounted a tremendous relief effort after the Second World War; 
and, so far from closing down, it is at the time of writing (1981) 
deeply involved in Eastern Europe, Morocco and above all Israel.) 

The Foundation inherited the task of supervising and financing 
the kassa networks not only of Poland and the Baltic countries, 
but also of Turkey, Romania (including Bessarabia) and several 
other countries. In 1925, a year after its establishment, the new 
organisation was busy putting the kassa system in the Old 
Kingdom of Romania on to a solid footing by opening agencies 
in Jassy, Bucharest and three other cities. In the same year the 
Czechoslovakian kassas were brought under the Foundation 
umbrella. (The kassas in these two countries will be discussed in 
a later chapter.) Another adherent to the Foundation in the early 
years was Austria's sole kassa, in Vienna, which in 1924, its first 
year of operations, recruited 734 members and made about 600 
loans. In 1927 yet another country came under the Foundation's 
aegis with the establishment of a kassa in Sofia, Bulgaria. This 
institution grew rapidly: by 1929 it had 1,030 members and made 
loans totalling S24,383. Kassas were also set up before long in 
two smaller Bulgarian cities. 

Thus, hundreds of kassas dealt with the Foundation, either 
directly or through a central institution. During the relatively 
prosperous late 1920s this whole web of operations continued to 
expand, experiencing only 'normal' ups and downs. By 1929 JCA 
was able to contemplate the Foundation's achievements with some 
degree of pride: it recorded that on 1 October 1929 749 kassas in 
13 different countries or provinces, with a combined membership 
of 323,640, were being sustained and regulated by the Foundation. 

The effects of the Depression, as we saw in the case of Poland, 



were not immediately felt by the kassas. Thus, although the Great 
Crash of 1929 is generally regarded as marking the beginning of 
the Depression, 1930 was actually a good year for the Foundation, 
which reported that in October of that year it had under its wing 
760 kassas with a membership of about 325,000. The Foundation 
could find added reason for satisfaction in the fact that these 
results had been attained in countries where the Jewish population 
suffered great hardship because of discriminatory policies. In 
Poland, Romania and Latvia the drive to force Jews out of their 
trades or businesses by means of boycotts or through competition 
from state monopolies was relentless. For those whose businesses 
were destroyed, as for those who managed to hang on, the Found- 
ation was the major source of credit. 

The kassas began to feel the Depression's bite in 1931. Although 
membership fell only a little in that year, deposits were greatly 
reduced. The figures given in Table 10.4, compiled from the 
relevant JCA Annual Reports, tell their own story. 

Table 10.4 The decline of the kassas, 1929-33 

Number of 








October 1929 





October 1930 





October 1931 



$ 9,800 


October 1932 



$ 7,650 

$ 9,861 

October 1933 



$ 5,896 

$ 8,335 

By 1933 the bottom had been reached, and JCA felt able to sound 
an optimistic note in its Annual Report for that year (which was 
written in mid-1934). The Association congratulated itself- and 
the Foundation - on the fact that prior to their activity co-oper- 
ative efforts had been quite unknown in Bulgaria, Greece, 
Romania (excluding Bessarabia) and Turkey. The establishment 
of Jewish financial co-operatives on a sound basis in these nations 
was wholly due, JCA pointed out, to the stimulus provided by 
the Foundation. In Poland, Latvia and Bessarabia, where JCA 
had been responsible for building up 'important networks of co- 
operatives' before the First World War, the Foundation could take 
credit for their continuing development and expansion. JCA's 
confidence was not altogether misplaced, for the next few years 
saw a general revival of the fortunes of the kassa system. 



Germany and German refugees 

In 1932 the Foundation offered its support to a German organis- 
ation the corporate members of which resembled kassas in their 
functioning. This was the Zentrale fiir Jiidische Darlehnkassen, 
set up by Jewish communities because of the great difficulty 
encountered by Jewish artisans and tradesmen in search of credit. 
In 1935 58 German kassas made 1,948 loans totalling $407,165. 
The number of kassas in the country rose to 68 in 1936 but 
dropped to 45 the following year. In 1937, in the face of the 
ever worsening position of Jews in Germany, the Foundation 
undertook the liquidation of the kassas there as well as the one 
in Austria. 

Other activities 

The Foundation was active in 16 countries; its 700 member organ- 
isations included one in Salonika, Greece, and one in Abo, 
Finland, which had a Jewish community of 300. The scope of the 
operations of the kassa system was truly astonishing, justifying 
JCA's faith in the value of this type of institution. In 1937 300,000 
loans were made, amounting to $56,377,650, and $15,000,000 
was outstanding in the hands of the borrowers at the year's end. 
Not content to work only in Eastern Europe and Germany, the 
Foundation began to provide financial assistance to the refugees 
from Hitler who were by now reaching Western Europe and the 
Americas: by the end of 1936 it had opened agencies in London 
(where refugee doctors formed a large proportion of the clients), 
Paris, Amsterdam and Zagreb. In Palestine the Foundation lent 
funds to the Central Co-operative Bank so that it could in turn 
lend to German Jews. The Foundation also acted to make loans 
to refugees available in New York through the good offices of 
the Hebrew Free Loan Society there. Meanwhile, as we shall see 
in Chapter 12, HICEM, the umbrella organisation which united 
JCA and a number of migration agencies including HIAS, had 
encouraged the creation of kassas in South America with the same 
end in view. 

The long-cherished dream of many JDC leaders of some day 
being able to dissolve their organisation was still harboured by 
some as late as 1939, on the very eve of the Second World War, 
when JDC began setting up a committee in Poland which was 
intended to take over all its operations in that country. It was 
formally constituted on 2 September 1939, just one day after the 
beginning of the Nazi invasion of Poland. On this note of unreal- 
ity JDC's work in Europe came to a halt for six years — hardly 


in the manner desired or contemplated by the organisation's lead- 
ership. Having said this, we must not forget the valiant efforts 
of JDC workers in Marseilles and Lisbon for refugees extricated 
through unoccupied France and the financial help provided to 
many Jews in Europe, especially through the efforts of Sali Meyer, 
JDC's agent in Switzerland, during the war.i^ 

A considerably more realistic assessment of the situation had 
been put forward by JCA's President in his address to the Associ- 
ation's Annual General Meeting of 15 October 1938, which took 
place just when the Munich Peace Pact was being negotiated. 
Against this backdrop of illusory hopes, Sir Osmond d'Avigdor 
Goldsmid summed up the situation of European Jewry after 20 
years of backbreaking work by JCA, JDC and many other relief 
agencies as follows: 

For many years now, the addresses which I have delivered to 
you on the occasion of our Annual General Meetings have 
been, like this one, brimful of the disquiet evoked in us by 
the ever-growing distress of masses of Jews. But never yet 
has the situation of our co-religionists appeared to me more 
full of anguish than it does today, nor their despair more 
profound. Last year I painted for you. Gentlemen, a picture 
of the many, many thousands of families who, as victims of 
racial discrimination, were forced to leave their native lands 
and cross the earth in search of work and bread. Since then 
other victims have swollen the ranks of those deprived of their 
homelands. New injustices have been piled upon the heads 
of our unhappy brothers. Several countries, often without 
even the excuse of economic reasons, are trying to make of 
Jews second-class human beings, to 'denationalise' them, to 
drive them from the positions they occupy in commerce, 
industry or the liberal professions, and to deprive them of all 
means of existence. '"* 



Romania and Czechoslovakia 


Between the wars 

Before the First World War Romania was a small Balkan kingdom 
consisting of the provinces of Moldavia and Wallachia - often 
afterv/ards referred to as the Old Kingdom - with an oppressed 
Jewish minority of 230,000, concentrated in the principal cities of 
Bucharest and Jassy. Although Romania contributed little to the 
Allied war effort, it was rewarded at Versailles with the addition 
of three large provinces: Bessarabia on the east, which had been 
Russian, and Transylvania and Bukovina on the west, taken from 
the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bessarabia had a Jewish popula- 
tion of about 250,000, and Transylvania and Bukovina together 
contained over 300,000 Jews, living in primitive conditions and 
in extreme poverty. 

The story of Romania between the wars bears a considerable 
resemblance to that of its northern neighbour, Poland. The 
economy, which in general functioned on a low level, reached a 
state of near collapse during the Great Depression. As for the 
Romanian Jews, greatly increased in number by the accretion of 
Bessarabia and the other provinces, they suffered from the econ- 
omic malaise like the other Romanians but more intensely, 
because they were the objects of discrimination, of government- 
ally inspired competition and, especially after the Nazis came to 
power in Germany in 1933, of boycotts, demonstrations and 
attacks stirred up by semi-fascist or fascist governments. 

The immediate post-war period 

It seems that JCA was not able to communicate with Romania in 
any meanmgful way in 191 V. The Association's Annual Report 
for 1920, however, indicates that by then JCA was receiving 
information and taking action. Ever since the country became 
independent in the middle of the nineteenth century, Jewish chil- 



dren had experienced great difficulty in obtaining entry to the 
state school system, and this situation did not change after the 
First World War, when the government schools were short of 
both space and funds. The Jewish community therefore set up 
and maintained its own elementary schools, which in 1919 
numbered 44. JCA, now that it was in touch, contributed to the 
support of 24 of them. There was also a vocational school in 
Bucharest which JCA had helped before 1914 and which re- 
opened, but with only 46 pupils. Another quite well-known and 
comparatively elderly institution, the vocational school for girls 
in Kishinev, the capital of Bessarabia (and scene of the pogrom 
of 1903), was operating with 260 pupils in 1920 and 320 the 
next year, most learning dressmaking. Another establishment in 
Bessarabia, the pepiniere (tree nursery) at Soroki, which had been 
the object of much solicitude on the part of JCA and was an 
important source of young trees for the Jewish farmers before 
1914, had been utterly destroyed, so that restoration did not seem 

The Jews of Romania, like those elsewhere in Eastern Europe, 
were desperately anxious to emigrate, but many destinations were 
barred to them by immigration restrictions. However, by 1921 
one of JCA's chief activities in Romania had become helping some 
hundreds of people to emigrate to Argentina; 260 settled in its 
colonies there. 

The year 1922 brought no great change in the situation faced 
by JCA in Romania. The regime still would not assist the Jewish 
schools, and JCA felt itself obliged to continue its support of 
those maintained by the communities. For a time at least the 
communities were able to do something to help themselves; while 
JCA assisted 32 schools in 1920-1, by the beginning of the 1923-4 
school year the number of JCA-supported schools had been 
reduced to 18. At the vocational school in Kishinev JCA saw to 
the repair of the old building and the construction of a new one, 
which allowed departments to be added for teaching marquetry 
and dental mechanics. 

Loan kassas 

As in Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the financing and 
supervision of the loan kassas in Romania was taken over by the 
Foundation in 1924. The Foundation proceeded to extend the 
system to parts of the country not hitherto covered. Kassas were 
established in Bucharest and Jassy, and five more were planned 
to be opened in other cities of the Old Kingdom. In one of the 
new Romanian provinces, Transylvania, the Foundation proposed 



the establishment of 11 kassas in towns with sizeable Jewish popu- 
lations, particularly in the poverty-stricken Marmorosch area. 
The local bureaucracy put obstacles in the way, but by 1926 there 
were nevertheless four kassas in operation in the province, with 
4,000 members, half of whom were businessmen, nearly a quarter 
artisans, and the rest in various occupations including farming. 
The kassas made 1,128 loans in that year totalling about $47,470. 

The weather, depression and prices 

From 1924 to 1929 the weather in Romania was very poor indeed. 
In the winter of 1925 there was no snow, thus no protection for 
winter wheat or other crops planted in the autumn; in the spring 
no rain fell, and the summer was hot and abnormally dry. The 
result was a year of misery and famine. Nor did the passage of 
time afford relief; in 1926 weather conditions were about average, 
but grain prices were low and in 1927 the cycle of bad weather 

The year 1929 saw decent weather at last, and decent crops. 
This good crop year, however, marked the beginning of the Great 
Depression, when the Romanian economy, largely dependent on 
exports, was materially weakened. The trade in cereals, in which 
Jews played a large part, suffered a serious decline. Prices fell so 
low that costs were not covered. The export trade in timber, 
another field in which many Jews were engaged, came nearly to 
a halt. Banks suffered losses, as did the Jewish kassas, which 
were forced at best to grant their debtors extensions of time for 
repayment and at worst to give up hope of collection on many 
loans. Things became so bad that in 1931 the government granted 
farmers a moratorium on the payment of debts, while industry 
was paralysed. 

Throughout this period JCA and the Foundation contmued 
and developed their wide range of activities in the provinces of 
Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania. 


As far back as 1899 JCA had worked with Jewish farmers in 
Bessarabia, helping to improve methods of growing tobacco, to 
develop grande culture, to improve animal stocks and to replace 
grape vmes which, in common with most in Europe, had been 
destroyed by the phylloxera disease. All this work had been halted 
by the war. Soon after JCA had resumed its activities, the govern- 
ment of the new Romania passed an agrarian law which put into 
the hands of 3,000 rural Jewish families in Bessarabia small lots 



of 2-6 hectares each. Curiously, considering that ordinarily JCA 
responded to cries of distress from Jewish farmers like a fire 
brigade to a sudden conflagration, the American JDC was the 
first relief organisation to come to the help of these people. JCA, 
however, was not far behind. In September 1922 it sent an emis- 
sary to survey the situation, and by 1923 had a credit programme 
in operation through the medium of local co-operatives, the 
financing of which was shared with JDC. JCA deployed a group 
of agronomists in the field, supplied farmers with loans, and in 
conjunction with 11 loan kassas in the province set up stations 
alongside each for the purpose of supplying farmers with 
machinery on the basis of long-term advances. 

JCA may have been a little slow in starting its agricultural 
programme in Bessarabia, but once under way this progressed 
rapidly. By 1924 its facilities had been extended to 2,972 farms 
in 23 localities, involving a population of about 15,000. The 
services offered were many and varied. For example, the number 
of stations supplying long-term loans for equipment increased to 
16; the agronomists were providing much-needed instruction; 
there were numerous demonstration plots; breeding stations were 
established where the local cows and horses could be mated with 
superior stock; high-grade animals were also purchased for the 
farmers; a special effort was made to revive fruit growing, which 
had been completely neglected during the war, and JCA tried to 
rebuild a few orchards as examples; the farmers were likewise 
encouraged to produce seed - a successful effort, for their product 
was sold throughout Bessarabia. 

In 1928 Bessarabia had the worst weather on record. The Jewish 
farmers were reduced to such penury that some had to rely on 
the foreign agencies for food. JCA considered that dairy farming 
offered the best defence against drought, so it encouraged the 
building up of dairy herds and the development of three butter 
co-operatives. The situation was still so bad, however, that JCA 
was called upon to transmit money collected from Bessarabian 
Jews in Argentina to their fellows in the 'old country'. 

JCA and the Foundation continued to do what they could to 
improve the situation of the farmers so bludgeoned by fate. The 
network of kassas in Bessarabia was expanded. The agronomists, 
with some success, got farmers to grow drought-resistant crops; 
indeed, the grape vine grafts distributed by JCA stood up well to 
the dry weather. Seed was scarce, andJCA supphed the farmers with 
this vital necessity, especially for cereals. As might be expected 
in such cruel climatic conditions, many of the farmers would have 
been unable to maintain payments to creditors for land purchased 
had not JCA and JDC lent them money to do so. For once a 



Romanian law helped the Jews. Legislation was passed breaking 
up large holdings, and the small farmers were able to add to their 
plots. In the case of the Jews however 73 per cent of their farms 
were still under 6 hectares in extent. The smallholders who did 
all their own work were able to survive the terrible years of the 
1920s better than the larger operators who had to hire labour. 

Bad weather did not prevent JCA from going forward with its 
programme of demonstration farms and its attempts to modernise 
the agricultural practices of Bessarabia's Jewish farmers. In 1927 
the Association provided the first tractor, which was used to 
work the land of the poorest and newest cultivators. JCA andJDC 
made advances not only for the improvement and enlargement of 
Jewish farms but also to enable farmers to hold back their crops 
in times of low prices. By 1930 the Association had managed to 
assemble in its ownership an area of 700 hectares in southern 
Bessarabia. The Jewish farmers in the district took cheer when 
they learned of this acquisition, and many applied to settle. JCA 
decided to select 35 families and allotted to each a plot of 20 
hectares of which 1 hectare was to be devoted to grapes; 100,000 
grafts were obtained from French nurseries, to be planted in 1931. 
In addition to grapes, the farmers planted barley, sorghum, maize 
and sunflowers, and each kept at least one cow; 550 sheep supplied 
by JCA were raised on a co-operative basis. Each family had a 
full complement of agricultural machinery. The construction of 
houses began in 1931. The families were given long-term loans 
of 300,000 lei (approximately $1,900) each for the purchase of the 
land, house and equipment. 

The village was named Ungrovka, in honour of JCA's Direc- 
tor-General, Louis Oungre, and soon developed into an exem- 
plary settlement not only for the Jewish farmers but for the 
Gentiles also. It even became a summer resort for Jewish tourists. 
In addition, 30 pioneers were trained there for agricultural settle- 
ment in Palestine. So widespread was the good feehng of the 
settlers towards their settlement and towards the JCA administra- 
tion that not a single resident moved away. Indeed, in the course 
of time Ungrovka grew by 18 families and 200 hectares. 

After the conclusion of the Hitler-Stalin pact in 1939, Romania 
agreed to re-cede Bessarabia to Russia, but Ungrovka was appar- 
ently unaffected by the change in sovereignty. However, when 
the German army, accompanied by the Romanian, invaded Bessa- 
rabia in July 1942 in the course of the Nazi attack on Russia, the 
situation altered; but the 53 families then hving in the village had 
time to pack up and migrate to central Asia. After the war most 
of them reached Israel. ' 

Before commencing the development of Ungrovka, JCA had 



become involved in the formation of a colony called Serbeschti 
in northern Bessarabia. Beginning in 1922, some Jewish farmers 
began to drift in and establish themselves there, but they found 
it impossible to operate successfully, especially because they were 
plagued with malaria. JCA stepped in, had houses built and wells 
dug, provided cattle and tools, set up a breeding station, and 
formed a dairy co-operative. By 1934, when Serbeschti was quite 
well established, with 35 famihes cultivating a total of 284 
hectares, JCA set up a number of demonstration plots which were 
useful for all the farmers in the area. These not only displayed 
the most rational and modern manner of working the soil, taking 
account of the pecuharities of the region and the conformation of 
the land, but they also, in'JCA's words, served as a practical 
school where the farmers learnt the use of up-to-date machinery 
and equipment as well as other skills, for example how to combat 
weeds and parasites. 

The Serbeschti settlement was chiefly devoted to milk produc- 
tion, and in consequence had fields of alfalfa (lucerne) capable of 
two and even three crops a year. It was equipped with a dairy 
and a creamery, which produced butter and cheese to be sold in 
a nearby city. In addition, barley, oats, maize and sunflower were 
grown. Unfortunately, because of the dry weather that so often 
prevailed in Bessarabia during the inter-war period, these crops 
sometimes failed after the first planting and had to be seeded 
again. By 1938 the settlement had the same 35 famiHes but had 
increased its area slightly to 300 hectares. 

Bukovina and Transylvania 

JCA had not worked in these two provinces before 1930, except 
in so far as the Foundation had rebuilt or created their kassa 
systems. As in so many countries in Eastern Europe, the kassas 
were of the greatest importance, because in these provinces also 
Jewish petty traders and artisans found it next to impossible to 
obtain credit from other sources. By 1930 the kassas operating 
around Czernowitz in Bukovina had 8,867 members. Loans issued 
numbered 4,887, for a total of £76,000. In Transylvania there were 
now 12 active kassas which made 20,000 loans totalling £187,000. 
In 1930 JCA decided to extend help to the Jewish farmers in 
these regions. Before the war there had been 2,000 in Bukovina, 
and those in the southern part of the province were fairly 
advanced. Their properties had been ravaged during the conflict, 
however, and afterwards anti-Semitic persecution had forced 
many to sell out very cheaply. By 1930 there were only 500 left, 
mostly in the northern part of the area, impoverished and in no 



position to obtain credit. JCA determined to help at least the 
poorest families, and in order to work more effectively put them 
into groups of five to ten and sent its agronomists to teach them 
milk production and how to raise potatoes and forage. Two 
demonstration farms were also set up, one for Leghorn chickens, 
which are specialised egg-layers, and the other for Rhode Island 
Reds, which are dual egg and meat producers. Later, farmers in 
the area were provided with flocks of these fowl and with modern 
tools. Another crop that some of the Jewish farmers were able to 
raise successfully was sugarbeet, and JCA helped 50 to 100 farmers 
to obtain contracts to supply the local sugar refinery. The resul- 
ting income, however, was not up to expectation because bad 
weather reduced the yield. 

In Transylvania JCA counted about 1,800 Jewish families living 
on farms or in rural areas, most of them in the Marmorosch in 
the northern part of the territory, which is quite mountainous, as 
it lies in the foothills of the Carpathians. Here again the rural Jews 
were sunk in poverty. Even those who had prospered through the 
trade in salt and timber had been rendered destitute by the collapse 
of exports in the Depression and by Hungary's prohibition of 
imports from Transylvania, which before 1918 had been part of 
Hungary. JCA's efforts here centred largely on attempts to estab- 
lish dairy farming. Every year, beginning with 1932, it put about 
100 cows on Jewish farms in the Marmorosch. The cows, JCA 
said, were a blessing for these extremely poor people, as their 
milk or its products brought in cash. JCA also sent a cheese expert 
who helped to form dairy co-operatives, so that families who 
formerly had no income to speak of were now able to begin to 
earn. To supplement the cows, JCA introduced flocks of sheep, 
small orchards and colonies of bee-hives, which helped more than 
half the Jewish farm families. 

All through this period, the Foundation continued working 
with the kassas in these two provinces. In Bukovina as elsewhere 
the Jews felt the Depression keenly because of the almost total 
cessation of the export of wood and cereals. Another blow fell in 
1931, when a large commercial bank in which a great many kept 
accounts failed to the tune of about 150 miUion lei - nearly $1 
milHon. The kassas were affected by these developments, but the 
supervision (with special emphasis on preventing the growth of 
arrears) and the credit provided by the Foundation kept the system 
viable, though with fewer members and a smaller turnover than 
in 1929 or 1930. The fact that these kassas were newly established 
and had had no opportunity to accumulate capital compounded 
the ditficulties. It was found necessary for the Czernovitz kassa 
to set aside part of its capital to cover doubtful accounts. The 



Foundation also cancelled part of the debt owed to it, which eased 
the pressure on this institution. In 1934 there were 10 kassas 
in Bukovina, with 8,318 members, which issued loans totalling 
$368,612. As the indebtedness of these kassas to the Foundation 
amounted to $316,850, this meant that in effect the Foundation 
was providing almost all the money they were able to lend. In 
Transylvania there were now 12 kassas, which issued 5,470 loans 
amounting to $375,000; this was a tremendous reduction from 
the 1930 figures. 

The 1930s 

As in most of the decade of the 1920s, Romania suffered again 
from bad weather in the 1930s. Throughout that period JCA 
carried on with its various programmes. As the decade neared its 
end, JCA's main effort in Romania, though at a lower level than 
in 1930 because of the effect of the Depression, was devoted 
to assisting the country's 5,000 or so Jewish farmers (most in 
Bessarabia), granting credits for the purchase of animals, tools 
and seed, making collective loans for the purchase of expensive 
machinery like threshers, and providing other items that were not 
recoverable from the farmers, such as demonstration fields, grain- 
judging stations and nurseries. In Bukovina, where JCA had 
started on the improvement of farming methods by providing 
good animals and modern tools, the Association was now encour- 
aging intensive cultivation of wheat and sugarbeet. In 1938, the 
last year of peace, nature finally smiled, and the crops turned out 
well. In the Transylvanian Marmorosch, where JCA had laid 
emphasis on dairy-farming, this activity supported 900 families, 
more than half the Jewish rural population; their equipment had 
been modernised, and their products enjoyed a favourable reput- 
ation. Sheep-rearing had also been encouraged, and the caracul 
breed had been introduced to upgrade the local stock. Another 
branch of agriculture important in the Marmorosch was fruit, and 
JCA had helped hundreds of families to plant apple trees. 

Finis in Romania 

'Growing social and political tensions in Romania in the 1920s 
and 1930s led to a constant increase in anti-Semitism and in the 
violence which accompanied it.' Thus stated the Encyclopaedia 
Judaica, which mentions a number of specific anti-Semitic inci- 
dents and even pogroms (organised by the Ministry of the 
Interior) that took place in the 1920s. To quote the Encyclopaedia 
again, 'After Hitler came to power in Germany the large 



Romanian parties also adopted anti-Semitic programs.'- In conse- 
quence, the latter half of the 1930s was marked by a spate of anti- 
Semitic decrees, regulations and legislation. In 1935 the National 
Bank refused credit to non-Romanians and decrees were promul- 
gated limiting the employment of persons so classified. These 
measures struck at the Jews, many of whom had not acquired 
citizenship or, if they had, had lost it. Commissions were busy 
examining the status of Jews and by 1938 had deprived of their 
citizenship 150,000 who were thus unable to fmd work. In 1935 
and 1936 no Jews were admitted to the Bar or to medical school. 
In fact, there was a widespread movement to revoke the licences 
of Jewish lawyers who were already members of the Bar and to 
prevent Jews from attending universities altogether. Heavy taxes 
were imposed on Jewish businesses with the object of ruining 
them. In 1938 a decree was issued calling for the liquidation of 
the Jewish kassa system, but the Court of Cassation abrogated 
this regulation in regard to some.^ 'Germany financed a series of 
publications - aimed at fastening an alliance between the two 
countries and removing Jews from all branches of the professions 
and the economy.''' As Germany penetrated into Eastern Europe 
with the Austrian Anschluss, the annexation of Czechoslovakia 
and the conquest of Poland, Romania fell even more completely 
under German influence, becoming in effect a satellite of the 
Reich, with consequences for its Jews that can readily be imag- 
ined. It must be said, however, that since 57 per cent of the Jewish 
population under Romanian rule during the war survived the 
Holocaust, 5 the destruction of Romanian Jewry, horrible as it was, 
was not carried so far as the annihilation of their co-religionists in 


Czechoslovakia, incorporating the provinces of Bohemia, 
Moravia, Slovakia and Russian Sub-Carpathia, all of which had 
been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was established as an 
independent country by the Treaty of Versailles. JCA instituted 
programmes only in the easternmost province, Russian Sub- 
Carpathia, which was a largely agricultural and forested area, 
much poorer and more primitive than the industriahsed and 
comparatively affluent western sections. There were about 
100,000 Jews in this province, constituting one-tenth of the total 
population. In contrast to the succession states that took over parts 
of Russia, Czechoslovakia was not afflicted by governmentally 
provoked anti-Semitism until the Munich Pact in 1938 ceded the 



Sudetenland of Bohemia and Moravia to Germany, and Slovakia 
declared its independence in 1939. 

Russian Sub-Carpathia was sometimes called the Hungarian 
Marmorosch, because it had been part of Hungary before 1914; 
it was separated from the Romanian Marmorosch (northern 
Bukovina) only by the Thiess (Tisza) River and had the same 
kind of rough and hilly landscape. To compound the geographical 
confusion, after the Second World War Russian Sub-Carpathia 
was awarded to the USSR, as was the northern part of Bukovina, 
so that both banks of the Thiess River are again under a common 

There were no events of note in this remote area after 1918 
until the Great Depression struck, when its remoteness proved to 
be no protection against the world-wide economic slump. JCA 
described the condition of the Jews in 1931 simply and effectively 
- it was one o( ' detresse feroce' . By 1932 conditions were so bad 
that the government felt obliged to distribute food to the starving 

JCA's programme 

In 1933, when JCA mounted a campaign to help the Jewish 
farmers in the Romanian Marmorosch, it decided to do the same 
on the other side of the Thiess River, where there were about 800 
or 900 Jewish families who could be considered agriculturists. 
JCA started operations in the rugged western section and, as in 
the Romanian part, brought in cows, whose milk was turned into 
butter and sold in the towns. JCA wanted the farmers to form 
dairy co-operatives. This turned out to be difficult to accomplish 
because they lived in scattered and inaccessible places, but the 
agronomists sought them out and put seven organisations 
together which successfully produced and sold cheese. Attached 
to each was a machinery station and a breeding station. JCA 
reckoned that if a family owned three cows it could make a hving. 
The Association also provided instruction in fruit-growing, distri- 
buting 4,000 trees among 40 farmers. It was estimated that, in 
addition to the Jewish agricultural families proper, there were 
2,500 more that did some farming, and a large proportion of 
these also benefited from the activities described. In 1935 another 
5,000 fruit trees were distributed, as JCA was hoping to develop 
fruit production on the basis of home gardens. 

The Association understood, of course, that all this good work 
had a very tenuous base, because of the darkening political trend 
as Nazi power increased. If this trend were to be reversed, JCA 



felt that the Jewish rural population could support itself; but this 
was a vain hope. 

Beyond farming, JCA was planning to start apprenticeship 
courses. Such a plan was carried out in 1937, but curiously not 
in the rural area of eastern Czechoslovakia. Apprentice 'foyers' — 
offices - were established in the western Czechoslovakian cities 
of Prague, Briinn and Moravka-Ostrava, apparently on the 
supposition that students from Russian Sub-Carpathia and 
Slovakia would apply to them. It was felt that openings for 
artisans were so few in the eastern part of the country that it 
made more sense for these facilities to be placed in the industrial, 
heavily populated and more prosperous western section which 
offered much greater opportunity. 

Loan kassas 

In 1925 the Jewish kassa system in Czechoslovakia joined the 
Foundation. In Russian Sub-Carpathia there were ten kassas affdi- 
ated to the Union of Jewish Co-operatives of Mukacevo, the chief 
city of the region, and there were four more in Slovakia. The 
kassas had a total membership of 9,259, of whom 25 per cent 
were small businessmen, 23 per cent petty traders, 17 per cent 
artisans and 17 per cent agriculturists. The average loan was about 

These comparatively minor operations of JCA and the Found- 
ation in Czechoslovakia were rudely terminated when, after the 
Munich Pact in 1938, the Sudetenland was transferred to 
Germany, and Slovakia broke away to become an independent - 
and violently anti-Semitic - country. 



The post-war situation of Jews in Eastern Europe 

If, after the November 1918 Armistice, the greatest, most immed- 
iate task facing the organised world Jewish community was the 
economic rehabilitation of the impoverished Jewish masses of 
Eastern Europe and Russia, the second most urgent priority was 
dealing with the problem of the hundreds of thousands of refugees 
from Russia who had fled that country during the civil wars that 
followed the Communist revolution. Others who feared the rule 
of the government imposed on Russia by that revolution also 
made their way across the frontiers. The newly created states 
bordering on Russia were flooded with people who were just as 
anxious to escape from Europe to the United States or other 
American countries as their unwilling hosts in Poland, Romania, 
Turkey or the Baltic states were to see them go. 

Unfortunately - and this became more true as the 1920s wore 
on - countries that had been open to immigrants progressively 
raised bars to the intake of newcomers, especially those from 
Eastern Europe. For all that, some of the fugitives succeeded in 
leaving Europe before the doors of the United States began to 
close with the passage of the 'Quota' Act of May 1921 and were 
almost slammed shut, as far as Eastern Europeans were concerned, 
with the Johnson Act of 1924. The pHght of the migrants 
distracted attention for a time from the larger and unceasing 
problem of the Jews who Hved in the succession states. Later, 
Nazism came to power in Germany, swallowed up Austria and 
Czechoslovakia and influenced neighbouring states to follow its 
violently anti-Semitic example. What JCA did to meet this 
continuing crisis is the subject of this chapter. 


In 1919 JCA recorded with regret that Jews emigrating to the 
West did not have the benefit of the advice and protection of the 



Association's pre-war information bureaux in Russia and what 
was now Poland. Hence, wrote Louis Oungre, there was a mad 
flight, an unregulated tempestuous attempt to save their lives by 
people 'fleeing persecution, invasion and ruin'. In contrast to the 
time before the war, when the emigrants had largely come from 
the poorer segment of the population, this was a flight of all 
classes, 'who, left to themselves without guidance or counselling, 
fell into the hands of unscrupulous dealers who cheated them out 
of all their possessions'.' 

Unable to take any action in Poland where the Russo-Pohsh 
War was going on, JCA had perforce to limit its operations to 
helpmg the Ezra Committee in Antwerp and the Montefiore 
Committee in Rotterdam. The majority of Jewish emigrants did 
in fact pass through the former city - about 38,000 from June 
1920, when emigration began, to the end of that year. Of these, 
8,600 had recourse to Ezra and 1,800 of them received monetary 
aid. The others needed help in obtaining passports or buying 
tickets. Montefiore in Rotterdam also helped Jews in transit by 
procuring passports and visas for those who lacked them, and 
many were lodged in a splendid building provided by the munici- 
pality of Rotterdam. But the numbers involved were only about 

Altogether, 1920 was a year of considerable movement: 60,000 
Jews left Poland, 25,000 left Bessarabia and 5,000 departed from 
Russia and Bulgaria. Their destinations were as follows: 

United States 








Mexico and els 




The American countries, alarmed by this influx, began to impose 
restrictions on entry. The United States required visas issued by 
the American consuls in the country of origin, a condition that 
was difficult for the fugitives to fulfil. Canada enforced its law 
confining entry to farmers - who also had to have $250 in their 
possession. And the South American countries in the course of 
the following year, 1921, also adopted restrictive measures. 

In 1921 JCA re-established connections with many transit 
committees in Berlin, Cologne (where the amazing number of 
52,000 Jews spent some time eii route in 1920-1), Genoa, London, 
Liverpool, etc. The Association also succeeded in setting up a 
committee to help would-be emigrants in Warsaw (this was the 



nucleus of the JE AS, the Jewish emigration agency in Poland) and 
in communicating with the migrants' committees in Kishinev, 
Bessarabia, where earher (in March 1920) the American immi- 
grant aid organisation, HIAS, had opened an office. No less than 
35,000 Jews entered the free city of Danzig in 1920; as the influx 
continued into the next year, the local authorities placed some 
12,000 new arrivals in internment camps, where conditions were 
primitive - they had originally been built for prisoners of war. 
Charles Netter, a member of the JCA Council, went to Danzig 
and was able to get conditions improved. As the authorities began 
to restrict entry to those with valid passports and onward tickets, 
the incoming migrants were able to leave after a stay of only a 
few days, which eased the work of the hard-pressed committee 
in that city. 

In order to help the Russian Jewish refugees in Romania, JCA 
sent Lucien Wolf, a well-known British publicist, to ask the 
League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to urge the 
Romanian government to defer an expulsion order against these 
refugees. This action was successful. Later Wolf was appointed 
to the High Commissioner's Consultative Committee. 

JCA convened a conference of parties interested in migration 
in Brussels in June 1921, followed by a second one the next month 
in Paris. At these meetings the Association stressed the importance 
and advantages of unity among the various Jewish agencies; but, 
fearing that unification on JCA's terms would reduce them to 
instruments of JCA, the agencies refused to take any action. 
One positive result, however, partly attributable to the Paris 
conference, was the creation of a Commissariat for Refugees by 
the League of Nations. 

Transit committees 

Despite the lack of agreement in Paris, many of the Jewish agen- 
cies concerned with the refugee problem did in fact unite to 
set up an organisation called Emigdirect (United Committee for 
Jewish Migration) which was initiated at a conference in Prague 
in October 1921. This meeting had been convened by HIAS and 
a union of Jewish welfare associations in Europe and overseas 
called the World Jewish ReHef Conference. Emigdirect, largely 
financed by HIAS, organised committees in many Eastern Euro- 
pean countries, as well as France, England and the Far East.^ 
Although JCA was not a member of Emigdirect, it co-operated 
with many of its branches, some of which adopted methods of 
operation advocated by JCA and even asked JCA to undertake 
the responsibility of co-ordinating their activities. 



Since the work of the local groups, often called 'transit commit- 
tees', was of great importance in the 1920s, it deserves a brief 
description (based on information in the JCA 1922 Annual 
Report). These committees provided shelter for the travellers 
waiting to embark, helped them with problems of foreign 
exchange or the transfer of funds to or from relatives, assisted 
them in obtaining steamship tickets, supported them in disputes 
with the shipping companies, helped them to secure passports or 
other necessary documents, and when necessary provided them 
with new, clean clothes (as Louis Oungre observed, fresh linen 
made a strong impression on medical examiners, and medical 
tests had an important place in the migration process). The 
committees also provided medical care for the migrants. While 
they were not intended primarily to supply cash for the travellers, 
they did give money to the needy, especially when these were 
held up in port for long periods. In some cases where the travellers 
stayed long enough, the illiterate among them were offered 
lessons in reading Hebrew or Yiddish. 

Reception committees 

JCA was also active in the countries receiving immigrants. In 
1920 a reception committee had been set up by JCA in Buenos 
Aires, with sub-committees in other Argentine cities and the 
JCA colonies. JCA's own office in Buenos Aires investigated 
possibilities for immigration into Chile and Bolivia. Despite the 
difficulties posed by Argentine regulations, which allowed in only 
agricultural workers, 3,660 Jewish immigrants disembarked at 
Buenos Aires in 1921, of whom 722 were helped by the JCA 
committee. This organisation developed into the agency called 
SOPROTIMIS, an acronym for the Spanish title of an association 
to help Jewish immigrants, with membership drawn from Argen- 
tina's Jewish community m general. 

As we have seen in an earlier chapter, the JCA committee in 
Montreal gave support to the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society of 
Canada. Because of the 1920-1 economic slump and consequent 
high unemployment, Canada imposed restrictions on immi- 
gration, but 10,500 Jews nevertheless succeeded in entering the 
country in 1921. 

JCA had financed a mission to Mexico, organised by the Indus- 
trial Removal Office of New York, and had inspired the establish- 
ment of reception groups in Mexico City, Tampico and 
Monterey; and a small number of Jews did manage to enter 

The United States, because of its size and its history of admit- 



ting large numbers of Eastern European Jews, was the area of 
greatest concern, especially when Congress passed the restrictive 
Quota Act in May 1921. This had been prompted by the post- 
war depression and the consequent trade union opposition to 
immigration, plus the xenophobia that every now and then mani- 
fests itself in the country, stimulated at this time by false but 
widely disseminated racial theories adumbrated by Madison 
Grant, H. S. Chamberlin and others. ^ The Act restricted the 
immigration from any European country to 3 per cent of the 
number of natives of that country residing in the United States 
in 1910. The object was to Hmit the intake of immigrants from 
southern and eastern Europe as against those from the western 
and northern parts of the continent. This mihtated against Jews 
from Poland or Romania who, though regarded and treated as 
different from true natives by their own governments, were 
included by the United States in the totals of those originating 
from these countries. In May 1924 the Quota Act was succeeded 
by the even more restrictive Johnson Act. The immediate effect 
was to reduce immigration from Europe to an annual total of 
167,000 in contrast with the peak of 1.2 million reached in 1913, 
805,000 in 1921, and even the 310,000 who gained entry in 1922 
under the Quota Act. The figure of 167,000 was arrived at by 
taking 2 per cent of the number of residents in the United States 
in 1890 originating from the various European countries. As this 
base-date was before the big immigration from Italy and Russia 
that subsequently took place, the regulation effectively limited 
the intake from these two countries. However, 167,000 was not 
to be the permanent limit, which was to be fixed in 1927 at 

By 1921 JCA's activities in regard to migration had assumed a 
certain geographic logic. Help was being given to committees in 
the countries whither the Russian refugees had first fled, such as 
Poland, Romania, Danzig and, later, Turkey. Also, in Poland 
and Romania there were plenty of native Jews who wanted to 
leave and could use the advice and information provided by the 
committees. JCA further had ties with and gave support to 
committees in the countries of transit, which essentially were the 
Western European nations. Lastly, the Association was working 
with groups in the Western Hemisphere which provided reception 
services, for example HIAS in the United States, JIAS in Canada 
and Soprotimis in Argentina. The last two were recipients of JCA 

JCA supported reception work not only in the countries 
mentioned; it was also actively engaged in seeking out possible 
new areas where European Jews could settle, such as Mexico, 



Chile, Cuba and even Bolivia. This search was made necessary 
by the stringent limits on immigration adopted by the United 
States, Canada, Argentina and Brazil, which had been the prin- 
cipal destinations of Jews from Eastern Europe before the war. 
Of these, the United States was by far the most important, and 
its restrictions were a tremendous and frustrating obstacle in the 
way of the efforts of JCA and other agencies to find havens for 
the refugees. 


While the Jewish migration agencies had been unwilling to join 
an organisation that they feared would be dominated by JCA, in 
the event they were perfectly agreeable to have JCA's office in 
Paris act as co-ordinator of their actions. The immediate problem 
was the continuing presence of tens of thousands of Russian 
refugees who were left principally in Poland and Romania, even 
after the large exodus already described. A few figures will illus- 
trate the extent of the problem and the success of the agencies' 
and the migrants' own efforts to overcome it. In March 1922 
there were an estimated 45,000 such persons in Romania; by the 
end of the year only 11,000 were left. In 1921 there had been 
150,000 refugees in Poland; at the end of 1923 the number was 

Although many of these people rehed on their own devices, 
the Warsaw Committee assisted 4,500 with grants of money and 
helped about 5,000 more to obtain Argentine visas; 40,000 
migrants passed through Cologne, where the local committee 
helped most of them over the German frontier; about 11,000 
embarked from Hamburg and Bremen, in the latter city helped 
by the Hilfsverein der Deutscher Juden; another 7,000 went 
through the Low Countries assisted by Ezra and Montefiore. 
Many were helped by English transit committees; Liverpool had 
been a big embarkation centre in 1921 when 15,000 passed 
through, but in 1922 the number was down to 2,500 as the focus 
shifted to Southampton and continental ports. 

A new trouble spot was Constantinople, where about 3,000 
Russians had arrived and could not find work. JCA despatched 
an agent to that city where he found that one-third of the refugees 
required financial assistance. The measures taken to move these 
people from Turkey will be discussed below. 

Even while Argentine visas were still obtainable, the multitude 
of bureaucratic formalities made the process very difficult; this 
was especially so for Russians, because the Argentine government 



did not recognise USSR passports. As the result of intercession 
by JCA, the government was induced to be satisfied with fewer 
documents. It was because of the large movement of Jews to 
Argentina in 1923 (in addition to the 5,000 Poles, 3,000 came 
from elsewhere) that JCA helped to create Soprotimis. This 
organisation performed port services, found the newcomers 
lodging and jobs, helped artisans with loans to set up in business, 
and kept its eye out for white-slavers, a breed of pest long endemic 
in Buenos Aires. 

Whatever virtues the post-war Polish and Romanian 
governments possessed, patience and tolerance were not among 
them. They threatened constantly to expel the Russian Jews who 
had sought refuge within their boundaries, and the Poles did force 
some out. Anti-semitic to begin with, these governments were 
all the more reluctant to suffer the presence of thousands of 
undocumented foreigners, a great many of whom had no money. 
For the Association this was an even greater problem. Where 
were the unfortunates to go? To arrange for destinations for them 
needed time. JCA therefore intervened with both governments. 
The deadline for expulsion from Romania, already deferred, was 
put off to 15 February 1923 and again to 31 December 1923. In 
Poland the intercession of the Nansen Committee of the League 
of Nations and promises by JCA and other Jewish organisations 
that the refugees would be moved out persuaded the government 
in April 1923 to put an end to forcible repatriation to Russia. 
However, by October of that year the Russian quota to the 
United States was fdled, and about 1,000 people from Poland 
who had intended to go there had to be repatriated to Russia. 
The Soviet authorities would not at first re-admit those who had 
fled the country without passports, but they finally relented. It 
was clear that the collaboration of all the Jewish organisations 
would be necessary, and the American agencies, the London War 
Victims' Fund and the Alliance Israelite in France asked JCA to 
act for them in dealing with the Pohsh regime. 

Thus JCA was now actor as well as co-ordinator in assisting 
the refugees. By the end of May 1923 some 5,000 of the refugees 
who had left Poland had received advice from JCA and 3,500 had 
had money. The Warsaw Committee helped 10,000 to obtain 
visas and/or cheap tickets and provided 850 with cash. In addition 
to the Russian Jews there was an even larger number of native 
PoHsh Jews leaving the country - 30,000 in 1922, 42,000 in 1923. 
Unable to secure admission to the United States, they went to 
Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Palestine. 

Meanwhile, the number of refugees going through Danzig was 
increasing. The two movements may have been connected, as 



some of those who had fled to Poland, afraid of deportation, went 
on to Danzig. To its considerable cost, JCA had undertaken the 
supervision of the refugees in Danzig, but on the positive side it 
was able to persuade the authorities to ease the conditions. English 
classes were also organised, a workshop for the sale of dresses 
was opened, a reading room was prepared, gymnastic instruction 
was given and, perhaps most important, milk was provided for 
children and nursing mothers. 

In Romania, where the refugees were supported by JDC, JCA 
opened offices in Bucharest, Kishinev and southern Bessarabia. 
Their main functions were to determine the refugees' destinations, 
send them out in groups so that they did not have to travel in 
isolation, arrange for medical examinations and passports, obtain 
tickets at reduced prices, and keep the transit committees in 
Germany informed as to coming movements (60,000 emigrants 
passed through Germany in 1923). JCA headquarters in Paris also 
informed the reception agencies in the United States, Argentina 
and Canada what to expect. In all, 7,500 refugees left Romania 
in 1923, of whom 4,700 were helped by JCA. 

In, addition to the large number of emigrants passing through 
Germany that year, about 4,000 left via Liverpool and 1,700 via 
Rotterdam, while Ezra in Antwerp helped no fewer than 14,000 
of whom 2,000 had to stay an appreciable time in that city. This 
group included a substantial number of children, so an elementary 
school was set up for them which taught Yiddish and English, 
the latter being the language which it was expected they would 
need at their destination. 

Argentina admitted over 13,000 Jews in 1923 (two-thirds from 
Poland), by far the largest number in any year between the wars. 
Perhaps this was because Argentine consuls for part of the year 
were willing to accept 'certificates of morality' from JCA, a privi- 
lege that was later withdrawn. Since about 5,000 of the immig- 
rants needed special assistance, Soprotimis was kept busy. Many 
of the new arrivals were placed outside Buenos Aires with the 
help of local sub-committees and about 1,000 were sent to the JCA 
colonies. Some worked on the railroads, as had their precursors in 
Canada in earlier years. Loans were made to artisans for the 
purchase of tools, and a regular loan kassa for that purpose was 
planned for the next year. JCA helped to create a showroom for 
dresses, which provided both instruction for beginners and work 
for those who had skill, thus obviating the 'danger to which the 
impossibility of obtaining gainful employment exposed isolated 
young women'. 

Rabbi Isaiah Raffalovich, who had performed similar tasks 
before, was sent by JCA to Brazil to initiate reception committees 



in Porto Alegre and other cities in the southern state of Rio 
Grande do Sul. In Porto Alegre alone there were loan kassas, two 
synagogues, a Jewish school and a library. JCA observed that the 
immigrants here followed the course familiar in so many places 
to which Jews have moved. They started as itinerant pedlars; as 
time went on they opened retail shops, progressed to wholesahng, 
and sometimes even to manufacturing. In Rio de Janeiro a local 
committee took care of the new arrivals with the help of a place- 
ment office established by JCA. 

While Canadian immigration regulations made entry from 
Eastern Europe almost impossible, the government was 
persuaded to admit 5,000 Russian refugees from Romania at the 
rate of 100 per week. As we have noted previously, only about 
3,000 were able to take advantage of this arrangement. JCA's 
Canadian Committee and JIAS were occupied in receiving these 
arrivals and finding employment for them, with the aid of sub- 
committees throughout the country. Ninety per cent of the immi- 
grants under this scheme received financial help from JCA. 

The next year, 1924, was marked by the coming into force of 
the Johnson Act in the United States. Its shattering effect, both 
psychologically and practically, can be judged by JCA's remark 
(in the Report for 1924) that the impact of this law was compar- 
able to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. Like that 
action 432 years before, the Johnson Act left thousands of Jews 
with nowhere to go. At the end of 1923, 8,000 were stranded in 
European ports, their plight exacerbated because the other New 
World countries were following the lead of the United States in 
closing their gates.. The number of immigrants from Russia and 
Poland admitted to the United States in 1924 was only 7,148. 
The one place accepting significantly larger numbers of Jews was 
Palestine, where nearly 13,000 were received in 1924, as against 
7,000-8,000 in previous post-war years. 

As we have seen, almost all the Russian refugees had left Poland 
by the end of 1923; and in spite of great difficulties about 11,000 
left Romania in 1923 and 1924, of whom 69 per cent had help 
from JCA. Likewise, by the end of 1924 almost all the migrating 
Jews had moved out of Danzig and JCA was able to terminate 
its activities there. It also closed its Romanian offices. Activity 
still continued in Antwerp, however, where Ezra dealt with 
10,000 people; and in 1924 only 19,000 registered with the 
Hilfsverein and passed through Germany. 

Argentina, concerned about the influx of Pohsh Jews, cut its 
intake of all Jews to 7,800 in 1924, much below the record of the 
year before. It was a small compensation that the reception of 
Jews by Uruguay increased to 833 from 463 the previous year. 



Soprotimis took care of them also. Brazil was helpful in 
instructing its consuls to respect JCA's recommendations, and 
2,000 Jews were able to enter, 400 of whom were assisted by the 
local Jewish Beneficent Society. In Canada JIAS andJCA were still 
occupied with those arriving under the 100-a-week arrangement. 


By 1925, despite the bars to immigration imposed by various 
countries, the vast majority of Russian Jewish refugees, who had 
numbered 250,000 or more after the Armistice, had succeeded in 
leaving Europe, only 6,000-8,000 remaining. These were located 
mostly in port cities, for example 1,300 in Constantinople and 
2,100 in Constanza, Romania, with smaller numbers in Antwerp, 
Riga and Libau in Latvia. As might be expected, most of these 
were the old and the disabled. 

At this juncture the agencies comprising Emigdirect, perhaps 
because their task was largely completed, overcame their previous 
reluctance to join with JCA. They did so at a meeting in Paris in 
July 1925, together with the New York Emergency Committee 
for Refugees. Out of this conference emerged a new entity, the 
United Evacuation Committee, which embraced all the major 
Jewish migration agencies including those in the countries of 
origin, transit and reception, as well as the executive of the Zionist 
Organisation in Jerusalem. Louis Oungre was one of the three 
co-directors of this new association. Its initiation was marked by 
the need to face a further closing of the gates to immigration. 
The Johnson Act was now fully operative in the United States, 
the South American countries were admitting only qualified 
farmers, and Argentina was even excluding relatives of residents 
and was requiring very extensive documentation that few refugees 
were able to complete. 

The action of clearing the remaining refugees from the ports 
was not accomplished without a certain amount of tension and 
suspense. In Constantinople, for example, the number was down 
to 1,307 at the beginning of 1926. Careful examination revealed 
that 132 had no right to protection by the United Evacuation 
Committee, presumably because they were not Jewish or had told 
false stories. This left 1,175 without means of earning a living 
and unable to leave the city. Worse, many were threatened with 
expulsion and, as the 1926 JCA report remarks, even if this threat 
was finally not carried out, the persons affected nevertheless 
suffered extreme anxiety. By dint of great effort, and at a cost of 
$30,000, partly provided by JDC, destinations were found in the 



course of the year for 758 persons, 326 going to Palestine, 200 to 
South America and small numbers to France, Canada, the United 
States and Russia. Not only visas were obtained for them, but 
medical certificates as well. Arrangements were made for their 
embarkation, a matter, the 1926 report reminds us, that was 
always very delicate and complex to achieve in Constantinople. 
It was found that 280 more could go to Canada in 1927, some 
with the aid of money from friends. This left 132, mostly elderly 
or widows with young children. The Committee made a grant 
of $6,500 to the loan kassa in the city so that it could lend money 
to some of the refugees to go into business; 67 did, successfully. 
Small grants were made to local Jewish institutions, including the 
hospitals, which were willing to care for the others. By October 
1926 the United Evacuation Committee decided that its object 
was accomplished, not only in Constantinople but also in the 
other ports, and the organisation was disbanded. 

Despite the success in organising the departure from Europe of 
the last remaining refugees in transit in 1926, the basic problem 
confronting the Jewish world remained as intractable and insol- 
uble as ever: in 1926 only 40,000 Jews were able to move out of 
Eastern Europe, about half the previous year's figure and an even 
smaller fraction of the numbers in the years before that. An 
added handicap to immigration was now imposed, a 250 per cent 
increase in the steamship fare from Europe to South America, 
from £6 to £21 per person. 

The difficulties in getting to the Americas had been responsible 
for a tremendous upswing in migration to Palestine in 1924 and 
even more so in 1925; but, as Palestine became engulfed in an 
economic depression, immigration there dechned to neghgible 
figures in 1927 and 1928. 

HICEM, 1921-9 

The Jewish organisations had learnt from the experience of the 
United Evacuation Committee the extent to which unified action 
facilitated migration work; it was obviously helpful, for instance, 
if the agencies in the countries of reception and transit could know 
in advance how many persons were due to arrive and when. 
Therefore, no sooner had the United Evacuation Committee been 
discontinued than JCA, HIAS and the migration organisations 
that constituted Emigdirect started a series of conferences out of 
which a new broadly-based migration agency emerged. This was 
called HICEM (HIAS, ICA, Emigdirect), and it began operating 
early in 1927. All local migration branches of the three associations 



and the European transit committees became branches of 
HICEM, which was sometimes known as HIAS-JCA because 
these two organisations played the leading role. HIAS was to 
supply 60 per cent andJCA 40 per cent of the expenses of HICEM; 
local groups were to pay their own expenses as heretofore, but 
in the event HIAS, JCA and JDC paid much of these also. A 
number of JCA staff members were seconded to HICEM. Louis 
Oungre became one of the two managing directors, and Sir 
Leonard Cohen, Sir Osmond d'Avigdor Goldsmid and Leonard 
Montefiore of the JCA Council became members of its board. 

At its inception it had offices in Poland, Danzig, Latvia, Lithu- 
ania, Romania, Turkey, England, Belgium, France, Holland, 
Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and China. This last was 
opened because a number of Jews fleeing Russia during the post- 
revolutionary turbulence had reached Harbin in Manchuria via 
the Trans-Siberian Railway. The Harbin office was called the Far 
Eastern Jewish Central Information Bureau for Emigrants, which 
through the mysteries of Russian orthography was shortened to 
Daljevcib. This bureau remained active for two decades. In 1927 
and 1928, 1,727 people passed through it to be helped on their 
way not only to China and the Phihppines but to the United 
States, India, Australia, Palestine, Latin America and Western 
Europe.'' Daljevcib continued to operate until the Japanese took 
control of Manchuria in 1937-8. It then moved to Shanghai 
(where there were 17,000 Jews). 

The creation of HICEM did not mean the complete cessation 
by JCA of certain migration activities of its own. Notably, in 
1928 it opened emigration information bureaux in a number of 
Russian cities. In that year 7,500 Jews left Russia, following on the 
5,000 of the year before. A complicating factor was the absence of 
any US consuls in the USSR, a country that the United States 
did not then recognise, so that consular matters had to be handled 
from Riga in Latvia. After 1928 Jewish emigration from Russia 
declined rapidly and virtually ceased. ^ 

With some justification, JCA looked on HICEM's work very 
much as if it was still a function of the Association and devoted 
full chapters in its annual reports to accounts of HICEM's activi- 
ties (see Tables 12.1 and 12.2). 

With the departure of nearly all the Russian refugees from 
Europe and the establishment of HICEM, the process of moving 
Jews out of Eastern Europe assumed something of a regularised 
aspect. At least the emergencies, the threatened expulsions of 
travellers en route, were experienced no more, and the migration 
agencies could work in a 'normal' fashion. Sadly, they did not 
have enough work to do because of the restrictions on intake so 










ON_ c» vD (> ON r~._^ cv)^ Lo o^ i~- Lo ^ o o Ki 00 o CN vo 
^" 99 ^ E2 O ^ "^" 0° "=•"" <^" ^ ^ ro* o\ •*- ^" ^^ o" ^' 

"T, "T, o^ o_ li^ iri_ u^ <)^ o in o o Lo un IT) o -^^ o Lo 
'-I ^ (nT vo" -*" n" ^'' r-" oC oo" vo" ■*" rn ^f oC •<i-'' ^Tt-" tW ro' 



of oo" CN ■^'' ■*" T}-" ■^' Tj-" ro" Tj-" rO 


1 2 

^ CNCNOsDO^HirjoO'^^HONirj^-tOroO 
-F OvDON^HvH\Du-jONOcOl^r^'^OLO\0 

CN fNf CO Tf CO LO ccf ^ of CO CO ^ co" of '^'" 

04 lO ON ^ 00 o o 


\D r-^" lo M3 lo" r-'" CO T-T ^ of co" -^^ "^" -^ -^ 


oo" r-" r-" of co" co" of of m" ^" -*" on" o" of ^" on" o" of r~-" 

^CO^ cO^vOOJ^^CNJ 


U-> O) Ol ^ NO NO 




ON ON 0^ ON ON ON ON On 0^ On On On On On On On On On On 





t; •*> 


• P:y 

c a 


r, p. 

X K 

W W 


Table 12.2 HICEM activity, 1921 and 1928 






Jewish emigrants who 












Emigrants who came 






to HICEM committees 






Interventions with 









Advances guaranteed 



$ 6,130 


$ 548 

for voyage expenses 






* Exact figures not known. 

Source: ]CA Annual Report, 1928, p. 262, 

often mentioned herein, which were tightened as the worldwide 
economic depression rapidly made its malign influence felt 

HICEM's work fell into predictable patterns. In the countries 
of emigration and transit it informed would-be emigrants as 
comprehensively as possible of conditions prevailing in countries 
of reception; helped travellers in approaching consular offices to 
facilitate the obtaining of necessary documents, especially visas; 
offered transit and port services, including legal protection against 
abuses; and gave assistance in securing steamship and railway 
tickets, often at reduced prices. Before the migrants left, HICEM 
tried to prepare them for the conditions they would meet by 
giving language and vocational courses. (All the emigrants wanted 
to learn English; apparently it was difficult to make them believe 
that in South America Spanish was more useful.) In the countries 
of reception HICEM offered port services and shelter and tried 
to establish the immigrants economically by creating employment 
bureaus and providing language and vocational instruction and 
sometimes credit through a loan kassa. 

HICEM also undertook to pay special attention to young 
women and girls travelling alone, and in South America appointed 
agents for this purpose. Even before HICEM was officially in 
operation some of its constituent agencies, for instance Ezra in 
Antwerp, had emphasised their concern in this area, and the 
Transmigrants Aid Committee in Liverpool made a point of 
working with the Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls 
and Women in London, an organisation that had long been subsi- 
dised by JCA. The efforts in this connection were not always 
successful, for the 1929 Report complains that some who arrived 
in Buenos Aires in that year fell into white slavery. 

In 1928 there was a rather unexpected addition to the roll of 
receiving countries. France permitted the entry of a few hundred 



Jews who came in as manual labourers. By 1931 the number so 
admitted rose to 888, of whom 56 were engaged in agriculture. 

In 1929 Romania came in for attention because the number of 
Jews able to leave in that year rose to 4,500, the highest annual 
figure for some time. This was interesting inasmuch as, of all 
countries dealt with by HICEM, Romania was perhaps the most 
difficult: many documents could be obtained only in Bucharest, 
whereas most of the Jews were in Bessarabia, hundreds of miles 
away. Even worse, there were many unscrupulous characters 
there who tried to turn a dishonest leu by preying on gullible 
would-be emigrants. 

Another HICEM office that had a higher level of activity in 
1929 than previously was in Harbin. This dealt with 7,000 consul- 
tations, gave aid to 1,350 individuals and sent 900 on to distant 
destinations, 421 of them to China and Mongolia and the rest to 
the four corners of the earth. In promoting this movement the 
Harbin office spent about $56,000. 


The next year, 1930, saw immigration rules tightened still further 
in Australia, South Africa, Canada, the United States, Argentina 
and Brazil. South Africa now proposed that all immigrants be 
required to make a deposit before arrival so that they would not 
become public charges. JCA put up money for passages to South 
Africa quickly, before this new regulation was enforced. Like- 
wise, in Canada it was feared that a decree halting immigration 
entirely was about to be imposed, so visa holders had to hurry 
to get into that country. The fares to South America were due to 
rise on 1 January 1931; therefore the Warsaw office of HICEM 
hastened to obtain 400 Argentine visas between 1 and 15 
December 1930. No fewer than 67,400 people came to this 
Warsaw office in 1930 and 15,700 cases received help, constituting 
a substantial proportion of the 17,000 Jews who left Poland in 
that year (4,800 went to Argentina, 3,200 to the United States, 
3,000 to Canada and 2,400 to Palestine). The work of the transit 
committees, though they had fewer cases to handle than in the 
1920s, was greater because so many more documents were 
required and there were more regulations to satisfy. 

In Argentina bad crops, low prices and unemployment led the 
government to ask Soprotimis and JCA to stop helping immig- 
rants. Nevertheless, 7,800 Jews succeeded in entering the country 
in 1930, about the average number for the post-war decade. The 
presence of a large and influential Jewish community and the 



philanthropic help made available to newcomers made this immi- 
gration possible. Soprotimis also assisted the 1,100 or so Jews 
who arrived at Montevideo in Uruguay, where the local 
community found employment and provided evening classes. In 
Brazil political upheavals and economic troubles limited the intake 
to 3,558; HICEM found jobs for 759, while its committees were 
operating three loan kassas in the country. To complete the story 
of HICEM's activities in South America in 1930, it should be 
stated that it also investigated Chile for settlement possibilities, 
and found it favourable. 

Although Canada restricted immigration to close relatives only, 
4,000 Jews managed to enter in 1930. The United States, in 
addition to the quotas set by law, reduced immigration further 
by instructing its consuls abroad to grant visas only to wives and 
children of residents. In spite of this rule, over 11,000 Jews 
squeezed their way in. The last important country of reception 
was Palestine, where that year some 5,000 Jews entered. 

In 1931 and 1932 there was a further decline in the work of the 
migration agencies because of the worsening economic situation 
and the further tightening of immigration controls. In Argentina 
economic conditions were so bad that 1932 saw for the first time 
more people leaving (43,400) than entering (31,300). Among the 
entrants were only 1,800 Jews as against 3,600 in 1931 and 7,800 
in 1930. One reason for the decline was the imposition of a 
tax on immigrants as a result of pressure from the trade unions 
prompted by high unemployment. Because the immigrants now 
were all related to residents, Soprotimis ended its vocational and 
language programmes. In Brazil more stringent requirements cut 
total entries in 1932 to 38,473, which was 7,000 less than in the 
previous year; but the number of Jews coming in remained at 
about 2,000. By this time not only were the kassas in Rio de 
Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre making hundreds of loans, 
but two new ones in Belo Horizonte and Campinos opened their 
doors. The Rio Women's Committee was much concerned with 
the care of female travellers; 119 ships were inspected on arrival 
and help was given to 279 women and girls and 209 children. A 
kassa was initiated in Santiago de Chile, though emigration to 
that country in 1932 was only 124, in contrast to 174 in the 
previous year, when HICEM opened its office there. In Cuba 
165 Jews entered, but 136 left on account of the poor economic 


9a Petrovka, Bessarabia, 1924. Milking sheep and goats 

9b Lvov, Galicia, 1924. Separating cream 

10a Colony Clara, Argentina, 1948. Grain elevator 

10b Colony Clara, Argentina, 1964. Vegetable oil extraction plant 


conditions, and some had to be helped by the local committee 
with their passage money. 

In these two years only about 14,500 Jews left Poland for 
overseas. Of these, 30 per cent went to Palestine, 26 per cent to 
Argentina and 11 per cent each to the United States and Brazil. 
We have noted that France had become a country of immigration 
in a modest way; in 1932 2,500-3,000 Jews were able to enter 
from Eastern Europe. 

The Great Depression, which reduced JDC's fund-raising, 
affected HIAS in the same way. In 1932 the agreed proportional 
contributions to HICEM were reversed; HIAS contributed 
$40,000 and JCA $65,000.^ Emigdirect had even worse financial 
trouble. Two years later it had to withdraw from HICEM because 
it could no longer make contributions. 

HICEM, 1933-41 


Bad as these money problems were, they were as nothing 
compared with the task that Hitler's accession to control of 
Germany in February 1933 thrust upon the Jewish migration 
organisations. The most serious situation they had had to deal 
with previously had been when comparatively few Jews were able 
to leave Poland or other Eastern European states and millions 
were obliged to continue to live, impoverished, some on charity, 
in a country that had made it clear that Jews had no place in it. 
This was bad enough, but it was not comparable to the position 
in Hitler's Germany, particularly in the latter part of the decade. 
Then the question of emigration became quite simply a matter of 
life and death. This put the agencies involved into an agonising 
dilemma because, with the regulations then prevailing in the 
countries of reception, there was virtually no place where many 
German Jews could take refuge. 

The pressure to emigrate was felt immediately on Hitler's 
becoming Chancellor. In the seven weeks from the middle of 
March to the middle of May 1933, the French Central Committee 
for Assisting Jewish Emigrants added the names of 2,300 German 
refugees to its lists. However, the immediate fears of the German 
Jews subsided a little; the pace slowed, and only 1,438 more 
were registered by the Committee in the remainder of that year. 
Altogether, in that first year of Hitler, HICEM in France helped 
2440 persons get themselves repatriated, go overseas or settle in 
the country. Another 3,197 refugees were helped by groups in 



Strasbourg, Marseilles and Lille. HICEM's work was notably 
supplemented by that of the National Committee of Help to 
German Refugees which was founded in Paris when the German 
crisis began. JCA calls attention to its vast and important work 
in obtaining documents to help professionals of all kinds get 
established in countries where they could start on new careers. 
Very careful and extensive research was carried out to find possib- 
ilities for young German refugees to continue their studies. 

Other migration agencies that were in a position to do so 
also responded to the needs of the commencing exodus. Ezra in 
Antwerp and Montefiore in Rotterdam between them helped 
3,500 fugitives from Germany. Even the JEAS office in Poland 
dealt with some hundreds of people from Germany, most of them 
Polish repatriates. The big task of JEAS, however, was to handle 
the emigration from Poland to Palestine, for 10,344 individuals 
travelled this route in 1933 compared with 2,875 in the previous 
year. The year also saw an improvement in Jewish migration to 
Brazil. The development there of kassas for immigrants was 
notable, 2,000 loans being made to newcomers, for many of 
whom also employment was found. 

So desperate was HICEM to find a place - any place — whither 
to send refugees from Germany that it considered it worth-while 
to explore some rather unlikely possibilities. Representatives were 
sent to Spain to look into opportunities for Jewish settlement in 
Spanish Morocco, to Yugoslavia, to Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, 
Italy and the Italian colonies in Africa. That such places from 
which little could be expected were examined was a measure of 
the extremity in which HICEM felt itself to be. 

The expedition to Spain, however, turned out not to be a 
waste. During the First World War a few Jews drifted into Spain, 
the first to settle in that country since the Expulsion in 1492. 
They formed a handful of small and poor communities. The 
largest, in Barcelona, appealed to JCA for help in 1923-4. Because 
they maintained a school for 30-40 pupils and helped immigrants, 
JCA provided the (rather exiguous) sum of 3,000 pesetas. In 1934 
there was a revolution against the monarchy which installed a 
democratic government in Madrid, sympathetic to the refugees. 
After Hitler came to power, Republican Spain proved to be a 
refuge for about 4,000-6,000 Jews from Germany. This brought 
JCA and HIAS, through HICEM, to extend systematic aid to 
refugees in Spain. Immigrant aid societies, named EZRA, were 
established in Madrid and Barcelona, and 3,000 Germans were 
enabled to enter the country, most of them going to Barcelona. 
Spain appeared so promising as a haven for German Jews that 
JCA sent a representative there in 1935 on an exploratory mission. 



He recommended, in spite of the country's blatant anti-Semitism, 
that 50-100 families of artisans should be helped to enter Spain, 
and 60 heads of families were actually sent there. But these small 
beginnings, and all hope of Spain as a refuge for Jews fleeing 
from German fascism, were abruptly brought to an end by the 
outbreak of Franco's revolt against the Republican government 
in July 1936. In fact, the Jews who had recently gained admittance 
had to leave. 

HICEM was working with 17 rescue organisations and oper- 
ating in 25 countries. In 1934 it helped 5,000 Jews leave Germany 
and 4,600 leave Eastern Europe. A total of 19,000 left Poland, of 
whom 12,719 went to Palestine, 1,470 to Argentina and about 
the same number to Brazil. The Polish JEAS had a very busy 
time supplying documents to people who had lost them during 
the First World War. It made 9,000 applications to the consulates 
of countries of destination. It also performed location services, 
finding relatives overseas, especially for women whose husbands 
had preceded them and in some cases had contrived to forget that 
they had left a wife and children behind. JEAS located many of 
these amnesiac husbands and brought about family reunions 
which perhaps were not always entirely welcome. Of 1,100 Jews 
who left Lithuania, 646 reached Palestine and 263 went to South 
Africa, a country that over the years had attracted a large number 
of Lithuanian Jews. Although only 275 Jews left Romania with 
the help of the HICEM committee, the organisation nevertheless 
won a notable victory there: it persuaded the government to 
reduce the number of documents required of an emigrant from 
18 to 4. Also, the requisite fees were reduced. The many loan 
kassas in Romania associated with JCA and the Foundation acted 
as agents of HICEM. 

In Istanbul, where 550 Russian Jews were registered and 1,500 
more were to be found unregistered, JCA persuaded the Jewish 
Agency, which controlled the entry certificates to Palestine, to 
issue more to the HICEM committee. This partially solved the 
problem of the Russians. But a new one arose: some 700 refugees 
from Persia who came into the city could not obtain permits for 
residence in Turkey. Here, too, Palestine proved to be the haven: 
473 of the Persians were sent to the Holy Land. 

In spite of continuing economic troubles in Argentina, marked 
particularly by heavy unemployment, there was a small increase, 
to 2,215, in the number of Jews entering. Soprotimis found 
employment for about 300, and its efforts were supplemented 
by a newly created Aid Association of German-speaking Jews, 
founded in 1933, which also placed close to 300 people. 

Brazil had already confined entry to persons having employ- 



ment contracts or relatives in the country and who possessed at 
least $200. In June 1934 it required a resident to guarantee that 
the immigrant would not become a public charge for five years, 
and it still reserved the right to exclude the newcomer if the 
number of persons originating in his country exceeded a certain 
quota. JCA persuaded the government to delay the enforcement 
of this regulation for some months. The loan kassas were very 
active, distributing 2,571 loans. About 500 Jews, almost all from 
Poland and almost all relatives of residents, entered Uruguay with 
the help of Soprotimis. To complete the Latin-American story, 
612 Jews arrived in Cuba in 1935 but 550 left, some to other 
American countries. 


The JCA annual report for 1935 cast a backward glance at devel- 
opments in the field of migration since 1933, when Hitler came 
to power. It quoted with approval the pithy description of the 
Jewish position in many European countries given by one of the 
HICEM committees - 'stabilised misery', they called it. Alas, in 
1935 it became misery unstabilised, for that was the year in which 
the Nazis promulgated the anti-Semitic Nuremberg laws, greatly 
worsening the position of the Jews in Germany. The report went 
on to elaborate the reasons why Jews found it almost impossible 
to escape their misery: 

Emigration has not ceased to be one of the saddest and most 
severe problems of Jewish life. The situation of many 
hundreds of thousands of men and women living under 
intolerable conditions cannot be solved otherwise than by 
emigration; but that is hindered by nearly impossible barriers 
against newcomers raised by the countries of destination. 
The result is a veritable tragedy for tens of thousands of our 
co-religionists who are forced to abandon any hope for a 
normal life, [translated from the 1935 report, p. 159] 

In the period May 1933-December 1935 HICEM helped out of 
Germany 13,428 refugees, of whom Palestine took in 3,371.^ The 
JCA report reminds us that the figures quoted - and this includes 
others later in this chapter - refer only to those who travelled 
under HICEM auspices and therefore understate the numbers 
who actually left Germany. Many more did so with resources of 
their own or were helped by other organisations. The cost of 
moving these people over the two-and-a-half-year period came 
to 9,621,000 French francs, contributed byJCA, JDC, the Central 
British Fund and other organisations. (This sum did not include 



the expenditures of the committees in the countries of reception.) 
A step forward in handhng the movement of Jews from Germany 
was taken by concentrating all organised activity relating thereto 
under the Hilfsverein. 

In 1935 the pace of departures from Germany quickened. The 
Nuremberg laws convinced many German Jews that they had no 
future there, and the improved operations of the migration agen- 
cies may also have helped. At any rate, the number who left in 
1935 with the assistance of the agencies was 10,600. 

Polish Jewish emigration in 1935 also increased, to nearly 
31,000, as Jews found themselves in general being excluded from 
the country's economic life and losing their customers because of 
the impoverishment of the peasants. The large movement from 
Poland caused great activity in the JEAS office in Warsaw, finding 
replacements for lost birth and marriage records and other 

As far as Russian Jews were concerned, despite the recognition 
of the USSR by the United States in 1933, Riga still had the only 
consulate available for those who wanted to go to America, and 
if -there were visa problems transit was further delayed. 

In Turkey there was both triumph and disaster in 1935. The 
HICEM delegate there managed to obtain Turkish nationality for 
500 refugees from Russia, but in May the government put an end 
to all JCA and HICEM activity in the country. 

At the other end of Asia, in Manchuria, many Jews who had 
settled there fled, following changes in the political situation 
arising from the advance of the Japanese army and the evacuation 
of the Russian staff of the Eastern Chinese Railway. Daljevcib 
became very active, helping 1,071 persons to leave Harbin and 
rendering other services to thousands more. About 500 refugees 
from Germany had been assisted by this agency to settle in this 
distant location between 1933 and 1935. 

The transit agencies in Europe and reception agencies in South 
America continued to perform their customary functions. Soprot- 
imis placed 500 entrants in jobs in Montevideo and helped 100 
German Jews enter Paraguay, where there were openings for 
artisans. In Brazil 1,400 new arrivals were provided with financial 
aid as well as documents, railway tickets and information. Cuba 
accepted 400 Jews, who received help from the Centre Israehta, 
and the local branch of HICEM set up a loan kassa for the 
immigrants and a school for their children. Back in Germany, the 
Hilfsverein started a farm school, which began modestly with 11 
students. The idea was to prepare candidates for entry to many 
American states which were wilhng to admit bona fide farmers. 

The transcendent fact is that, despite all the hindrances and 



obstacles repeatedly stressed in this narrative, 81,500 Jews were 
able to leave Eastern Europe and Germany in 1935; this number 
exceeded the 60,250 of the previous year and was almost double 
the 46,000 of 1933. The Polish government was so eager to get 
Jews out that it covered the deficit of JEAS. The main reason for 
the achievement of these figures was that Palestine was prosperous 
enough to admit 75 per cent of the total numbers leaving Europe. 
When entry into Palestine was restricted in 1936 and only 30,000 
were admitted, Jewish emigration from Europe to all destinations 
was reduced to 54,000. Another calamity that befell Jews in flight 
was the outbreak of the rising in Spain, where a few thousand 
had taken refuge, at a time when the Latin-American nations had 
placed fresh restrictions on Jewish immigration. Nevertheless, 
Argentina and Brazil together admitted 7,700 in 1936, which was 
in fact an increase over the previous year and included 2,500 from 
Germany; and Chile admitted 600 German Jews. In contrast, 
Paraguay decreed the expulsion of all new arrivals who were not 
farmers. But if some of the South American countries made 
difficulties. South Africa became somewhat more encouraging, 
admitting 3,300 Jews in 1936. 

The financing of HICEM had changed considerably since its 
inception. In 1936, out of a total of £50,000, most came from 
JCA - £30,000; JDC gave £5,000 and the British Council for 
German Jewry £14,000. 

19 51 -9 

In 1937 South Africa, Brazil and Uruguay stiffened their restric- 
tions against immigration, and Mexico and Cuba made it impos- 
sible for Jews to enter. But the United States made things easier, 
and the figure for Colombia went up to 500. The position in 
Palestine worsened, the number allowed in being only 10,500. 
The net result was that no more than 37,000 Jews were able 
to escape from Europe. Emigration from Poland was especially 
affected; only 8,500 Jews left that country, half the 1936 figure. 
HICEM's committees now numbered 51, in 23 countries, 
including such comparatively far-off places as the Philippines, 
South Africa and Austraha. 

As Nazi pressure increased outside Germany's borders, the Jews 
remaining in places like Danzig tried their best to get out, with 
HICEM helping, as always, in every way possible. Of 7,000 Jews 
who were in Danzig in 1937, only 1,666 remained in August 
1939, on the eve of the outbreak of war. The Austrian Anschluss 
in 1938, the Munich Pact of September 1938 and the seizure of 
Czechoslovakia by the Germans m March 1939 brought another 


325,000 Jews under direct German control. What they could 
expect was made clear by the infamous Kristallnacht pogrom of 
November 1938. They were desperate to flee under any 

Early in 1939 two ships with 290 Jewish passengers sailed from 
Germany for the British West Indies, but the refugees could not 
disembark because their visas were invalid. By dint of extreme 
effort HICEM placed these people in Venezuela and Ecuador. 
Similar pressures needed to be employed in Uruguay, where Jews 
were finally permitted to land on the understanding that they 
would go on to Paraguay and Chile. The most notorious of the 
happenings of this kind involved the liner St Louis. In May 1939 
it left Bremen with 900 Jews aboard who had valid visas for 
Cuba, but the emigrants were refused permission to land when 
they reached Havana because the government had just cancelled 
the permits that it had previously issued. ^ After the ship had spent 
agonising days wandering the ocean, Belgium, on the appeal to 
its government of Max Gottschalk (a member of the boards of 
both JCA and HICEM), allowed 300 to land; the French govern- 
ment was persuaded by Baron Robert de Rothschild to admit a 
further 300; and Britain and Holland took in the remainder. At 
the other end of the world there was trouble also; as the Japanese 
army moved into Manchuria, many Jews left Harbin and HICEM 
moved its offices to Shanghai. 

The United States, to make up, as it were, for the niggardliness 
of its immigration policy at the beginning of the decade, took the 
positive step of instructing its consuls to give special consideration 
to visa applications from German and Austrian Jews, with the 
result that Jewish immigration from Germany and elsewhere to 
the USA increased to 43,450 in 1939, compared with 19,736 the 
year before. 

A conference called by HICEM in Paris in August 1939 was 
given the figures for the period March 1933-August 1939. Of 
880,000 Jews hving in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, 
380,000 had fled, but only half had left Europe - the other half 
had gone mostly to England and France. While the meeting was 
taking place the Hitler-Stalin Pact was signed, followed by the 
outbreak of the war on 1 September 1939. This sealed the fate of 
the half milhon Jews left in those three countries, as well as most 
of those who had sought refuge in France. 

One of the many crises HICEM now faced was financial. With 
the outbreak of the war, JCA, as a British corporation, was 
prevented from transferring funds abroad. However, HIAS, 
domiciled in the United States, which was still a neutral country, 
was able to do so, and it was thus that HICEM could help 



some hundreds of Czech and German refugees through France to 
America. A thousand Jews were plucked from French internment 
camps. HICEM was also able to provide service to Jews in the 
Baltic states and eastern Poland; for the Soviets, on taking control 
of these areas at the end of 1939 allowed more than a year for 
Jews to leave if they were able to. With HICEM's help, 2,000 of 
them were able to reach Palestine or the United States; another 
4,400 went in the other direction, through Kobe, Japan, 1,300 of 
them settling in Shanghai and the others proceeding to a variety 
of places overseas. 


In June 1940, with the fall of France imminent, HICEM opened 
an office in Lisbon. The tiny Jewish community there had already 
assisted many Jews fleeing Europe. In the remainder of 1940 this 
office helped 1,550 depart from Portugal. The HICEM staff in 
Paris left the city together with JCA's personnel as the Germans 
advanced. They went first to Bordeaux and then to Marseilles in 
unoccupied France, where they set up operations in October 1940. 
This office was recognised by the Vichy regime as the Jewish 
emigration agency for unoccupied France, and it succeeded in 
getting a few thousand Jews to the United States. Even after 
American consulates in all parts of Europe controlled by the 
Germans were closed on 15 July 1941, HICEM was able to 
persuade the Vichy government to honour visas for Jews in the 
area under its jurisdiction, and also prevailed on the Spanish 
government to permit visa-holders to pass through en route to 
ports in Morocco. 

Though these actions are treated summarily here, it must be 
emphasised that securing the release of inmates of Vichy camps 
or passage through Spain required skilled, persistent and tension- 
filled effort by HICEM personnel. All m all, between July 1940 
and December 1941, when Pearl Harbour brought the United 
States into the war, HICEM and HIAS helped no fewer than 
25,000 people to journey overseas from European and North 
African ports, about 10,000 of whom required financial assistance. 


Early in 1942 the Vichy government dissolved HICEM and made 
it part of the general Jewish organisation for occupied France, 
UGIF. The German take-over shortly thereafter forced the staff 
to leave Marseilles and move to a small town called Brive, and 



its functioning was effectively halted. However, after the fall of 
France a number of the leading members of the JC A and HICEM 
staff succeeded in reaching the United States or South America. 
Louis Oungre was already in New York, having secured passage 
on the last ship to leave Toulon in 1940. Maurice Hexter had 
interceded with Judge Samuel Rosenman, President Roosevelt's 
assistant, to provide Oungre with the highly important visa.^o 

Oungre and officials of HIAS incorporated the HIAS-JCA 
Emigrant Association in New York on 30 June 1942 and became 
members of its board. Edouard Oungre, Louis's brother, who 
was a vice-director of JCA, was named one of the co-directors 
of the revived migration agency, heading its operations in South 
America. Between 1942 and 1944 this organisation was able to 
get thousands of Jewish refugees out of Spain and Portugal and 
to place most of them in various Latin-American countries - not 
without difficulty, as these latter had broken relations with the 
Axis powers and were inclined to treat German Jews as enemy 
aliens. Offices were opened in Chile and Colombia, and the 
Shanghai bureau also maintained a high level of activity. In 1944 
and 1945, as the Germans fell back, HIAS-JCA opened offices in 
France, Italy, North Africa, Romania and elsewhere in Europe. 
JCA, however, was still unable to transfer funds outside the 
sterling area. Therefore, at a conference held in London in 
October 1945 it was decided to wind up the affairs of HIAS-JCA 
as such and transfer its remaining assets to HIAS. 

HICEM, its predecessor organisations and its successor, 
HIAS-JCA, had operated for nearly twenty years in a Europe 
terribly troubled and financially devastated by depression, 
extreme nationalism, fascism, anti-Semitism and lastly, to cap 
this litany of ill-fortune, the Second World War. On the other 
side of the Atlantic, the traditional receiving countries for immi- 
grants had made entry progressively more difficult. That the 
Jewish migration agencies were able to move some hundreds of 
thousands of migrants and refugees out of Europe was a tribute 
to the skill, devotion and courage of their staff, a number of 
whom themselves perished in the war or in concentration camps. 
That more Jews were lost than successfully escaped from Europe 
in the years from 1930 to 1945 does not detract from HICEM's 
achievements. It did not have enough money, time and, most 
important, places of refuge to save more. 




Towards the end of the last chapter we saw that in the summer 
of 1940 the JCA staff, together with that of HICEM, left Paris. 
As the Germans advanced into France the Central Administration 
of JCA was in a state of almost constant movement. Its operation 
was further inhibited by the fact that the registered official address 
of the Association was always in London (at the office of its 
solicitors), and France under Nazi occupation was according to 
British regulations an enemy country to which British citizens or 
corporations could not address communications or transfer 
money. JCA's administrative officers were mostly in the 
Americas: Louis Oungre had been preceded to New York by 
Max Gottschalk of Brussels, Vice-President of the Association, 
and was joined there by Messrs. Calius and Cherniak of the Paris 
staff Edouard Oungre went to Buenos Aires; Victor Gir- 
mounsky, a Vice-Director of JCA, made his way to Brazil; and 
a third Vice-Director, Georges Aronstein, was in London as a 
member of the Free Belgian Army.^ It was arranged that the JCA 
offices in Canada, Brazil and Argentina would thenceforth report 
to Mr Oungre in New York. Emica, JCA's subsidiary in Pale- 
stine, was not covered by these arrangements; this left Charles 
Passman, its director, free to act on his own. 

After the war was over, JCA decided to transfer its headquarters 
to London, and this was done in 1949. The Annual Reports, 
hitherto printed in French and in the 1920s often running to more 
than 200 pages, were now in English, mimeographed, and a dozen 
pages long. This shrinkage of the reports did not at first reflect a 
geographical shrinkage in the operations; for in the years 
following the war the Association remained active in the Western 
Hemisphere as well as in Palestine (soon to become Israel) and 
proceeded to extend its interests to Morocco, Tunisia, Kenya, 
Ethiopia, France and Australia. By 1980, however, JCA had found 
it expedient to bring its work in nearly all these countries to an 
end, so that the chief focus of its activity today is almost exclu- 
sively Israel, where there now exists a self-sufficient and capable 
farming fraternity to whose welfare and advancement JCA has 

been a large contributor. In this respect the Baron de Hirsch's 
dream has been brought to fruition. 


End in Argentina 

Peron's pricing policy 

The most important political event in Argentina during the 
Second World War was a governmental overturn. We have seen 
that in 1930 a miUtary coup had installed General Uruburu as 
President. He was followed by other dictators. But in 1943 Juan 
Peron, a military man (he was a colonel when he took power) 
who openly appealed to and depended on the popular mandate, 
seized control of the government and had that control ratified by 
being elected President in 1946. 

The authoritarian miUtary governments of the 1930s had 
favoured urban workers at the expense of the farmers. In this one 
respect at least Peron continued the policy of the previous regime 
and indeed intensified it. He set up an organisation called Instituto 
Argentino de Promocion del Intercambio (lAPI - Argentine Insti- 
tution for the Promotion of Trade), a highly capitahsed commer- 
cial enterprise which dealt with farm crops. I API fixed the prices 
paid to farmers for their products below world levels but sold 
them at the prevaiHng international rates. The margin provided 
a source of income to the government. An example of this pohcy 
was the fixing of the price paid to farmers for wheat at 25 pesos 
per quintal in 1948, when the world price was 60 pesos. As the 
farmers had difficulty in covering their costs, this pricing system 
gave rise first to loud complaints and then to action in the shape 
of abandonment of farming. 

For the Jewish farmers in the JCA colonies this caused a special 
problem. The young women were the first to move away from 
rural areas, and their departure made it difficult for young men 
to find suitable mates; so they also started to move to where the 
ladies were. This was a concern outside JCA's customary frame 
of reference, but the Association rose to the occasion and encour- 
aged the colonies to institute 'events' which it hoped would help 
persuade young people to stay on the farms. As part of this effort 
JCA prompted the creation oi salles dejetes, where such things as 
lectures and theatrical performances could take place (and which 



were used in 1946 for commemorations of the fiftieth anniversary 
of the founder's death). More influential than any of these, one 
suspects, but not influential enough to counteract the tendency to 
move to urban centres, was the opening of the first cinema in the 
colonies, at Montefiore. This example was soon to be followed 
in many of the other colonies. 

The London Conference 

As far as JCA was concerned, one notable aspect that was missing 
from the post-war picture was the interminable quarrel with the 
Fraternidad Agraria. We have seen that the question of the 
contracts had lost its acuteness because most of the colonists had 
obtained title to their lands. They were now able to do so by 
paying 20 per cent of the purchase price and giving a mortgage 
for the balance. JCA, at long last abandoning its policy of main- 
taining huge land reserves for the benefit of new settlers who 
obviously were never going to arrive, also made it possible for 
the colonists to enlarge their holdings to a 'reasonable size' and 
dropped the restrictions it had set on the acquisition of its lands 
by sons and sons-in-law. These changes were put into effect 
with the help of some prodding by Max Gottschalk, the Belgian 
member of the JCA Council, who went to Argentina on a visit 
of inspection in 1949. The Council, indeed, so recognised the 
maturity of its Argentine proteges (two generations had passed 
since the first JCA settlements in 1891) that it was willing to 
establish a consultative committee in Buenos Aires, in conjunction 
with the Fraternidad, to deliberate on questions of policy. 

The changes were formalised by the resolutions adopted at a 
conference held in London in June 1950 between the Council and 
a delegation from the Fraternidad consisting of its president and 
vice-president. It was agreed that JCA should try to bring all farm 
holdings up to a basic level of 150 hectares. In the Montefiore 
colony, where the soil was poor, 350 hectares would be the 
standard. (As late as 1963, however, at Baron Hirsch colony 
holdings were still much smaller than the average. ') The price 
charged by JCA for land would be 30-40 per cent below commer- 
cial levels, but sales would be made only to authentic colonists 
working their land personally. If a colonist who had purchased 
JCA land wished to sell it, JCA would be willing to help with 
its repurchase, so as to keep it in Jewish hands. Sons of colonists 
would be helped to buy land and all previous restrictive conditions 
in such cases were dispensed with. Lastly, JCA agreed formally 



to the establishment of the Consultative Committee in Buenos 

The next year, as a further sign of JCA's belated recognition 
of the maturity of the Argentine settlements, it elected to 
membership of its Council Dr Ricardo Dubrovsky, a leader of 
the Buenos Aires Jewish community and prominent in both 
medical and political circles. This appointment was received by 
the colonists with acclaim. The untimely death of Dr Dubrovsky 
in 1954, however, seemed to some an indication that the colonies 
had not only achieved maturity but had gone into decline. For 
by now JCA could not deceive itself with dreams of a revival of 
Jewish colonization in Argentina. 

First, in contrast with the pre-war situation, the great pool of 
potential immigrants in Eastern Europe had been all but wiped 
out by the Holocaust, and Israel now existed as an alternative 
destination for those who survived. Second, the political and 
economic upheavals in Argentina, plus the numerous anti-Semitic 
incidents that have sullied the Argentine scene to the present day,^ 
made the country completely unattractive to new Jewish settlers, 
even if the regime had been willing to admit them. Jewish immi- 
gration having thus for all practical purposes ceased, the JCA 
Council concluded in 1958 that the Association's mission in 
Argentina was approaching its end. 

Exodus from the countryside 

The influences towards urbanisation that affected the Jews in rural 
areas continued in full force. We see a steady decline in the count 
of Jewish farmers in the JCA annual reports, from 3,435 colonist 
families in 1941 to 2,066 in 1957. A majority of those still actively 
engaged in farming had moved to the nearby villages and towns, 
obviously preferring to live in more gregarious surroundings than 
in the comparative isolation of the pampas, even if they continued 
to work there. In 1956, for example, less than 40 per cent of the 
number of colonists recorded in the Annual Report were Hving 
on their farms. 

A major preoccupation of JCA was to stem this tide by trying 
to bring such amenities to life in the countryside as would induce 
the Jewish farmers to remain there. In the 1948 Report we read 
that JCA was encouraging the colonies to improve their facihties 
for education and entertainment. But this same Report states that 
land values had started to rise appreciably and that many farmers 
were taking advantage of the trend. The Report goes on to 



wonder whether it would ever be possible for JCA to reawaken 
interest in Jewish farm settlement and answers its own question, 
realistically, in the negative. It did indeed seem that without an 
infusion of new blood the outlook for the Argentine colonies was 

But JCA was not yet ready to abandon its aim of helping Jews 
to stay on the land. In 1949 and 1950 the Association made loans 
either directly or through the medium of the co-operatives to 
enable farmers to buy land, seed and cattle and to erect fencing. 
In each of these years it also lent a total of about 400,000 pesos 
(£13,000) to the co-operatives to enable them to make grants to 
schools, libraries, youth clubs and cinemas and to assist farmers to 
purchase agricultural machinery. Nor did the Association neglect 
public relations. In these years and after, it donated land to state 
and municipal governments for schools, hospitals and other public 

In 1951 a meeting of the Consultative Committee was held in 
Buenos Aires to consider methods of countering the movement 
away from the land by the extension and improvement of indivi- 
dual holdings and the further development of rural cultural and 
social life. In that year 226 farms were enlarged and 36 new 
farmers installed. Much of this was accomplished with the aid of 
loans from JCA; 238,000 pesos were advanced to purchasers of 
vacated land. JCA emphasised its support for Hebrew classes and, 
in addition to its usual grants to charitable and social organisa- 
tions, made a grant to ORT to help it set up a school for voca- 
tional training in Dominguez, Entre-Rios. 

The trend towards colonist ownership, which had been well 
established even before the war, continued; now, 90 per cent of 
occupiers owned their farms. But notwithstanding all this effort 
and expenditure of money, the 1951 Report ruefully states that, 
of 17,000 Jews living in the colonies, in that year 500 moved 
away. How eager the farmers themselves were to receive new- 
comers was demonstrated by the great welcome given to a mere 
11 famihes who arrived from Europe in 1953. 

Changes in the Council 

The year 1951 happened to be one of important changes in the 
JCA Council. The Marquess of Reading, who had been President 
for three years, was appomted to the British government as 
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and resigned from 
the Council. Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid, who was destined 
to have an influence on JCA affairs second only to that of the 



Baron himself, became President in Reading's place. Leonard 
Montefiore also resigned in that year. Dr Ricardo Dubrovsky was 
elected to the Council, not only to the great acclaim of Argentina's 
Jewish community, but with favourable notice in the general 
Argentine press as well. And finally. Sir Keith Joseph, eminent 
in English business, economic and political circles, became a 
member. (The following year, it should be noted, Maurice B. 
Hexter, the American who had been so instrumental in reawak- 
ening JC A 's interest in Israel, was also elected to the Council.) 

JCA goes on 

The next years saw no important changes in JCA policy. The 
Association continued to make loans for the repurchase of vacated 
Jewish farms and for farm extension or improvement, and saw 
the percentage of farmers owning their land increase a httle each 
year. JCA continued its role of mother hen, guarding and helping 
her sometimes errant children when they got into difficulties. In 
1957 there was a drought in Entre-Rios province, the area with 
the highest concentration of Jewish farmers in the country. JCA, 
with its customary solicitude, hastened to make loans to the worst 
affected colonists. 

That year was one of considerable unrest and unsettlement in 
Argentina. Juan Peron had been ousted and exiled in 1956, and 
the controlling junta had set elections for 1957. Not only the 
political scene was confused, but, after Peron's mismanagement, 
also the economic. But JCA went about its business, making 
emergency drought loans, helping the appropriate committees 
arrange social and cultural events in the colonies and providing 
advances to the co-operatives and other community institutions. 

Rather surprising, in view of the cessation of Jewish immi- 
gration, was the Association's purchase in 1957 of an estate of 
150 hectares in the province of Rio Negro, south west of Buenos 
Aires. The estate was wholly devoted to fruit and grapes, princi- 
pally grapes, and contained its own winery. The chief object of 
the purchase was as a hedge against devaluation of funds surplus 
to requirements, which could not be withdrawn from Argentina. 
Some of the land might be used for the settlement of a few 
families (under fruit, 10 hectares or less would constitute an econ- 
omic unit), but in the event no suitable candidates were forthcom- 
ing. Also noteworthy in this year was the fact that, after many 
years of effort, JCA was finally able to win a tax exemption in 
Entre-Rios province as a charitable organisation. The Associ- 
ation's philanthropic character had been recognised by the federal 



government long before, but this had not protected JCA against 
taxes imposed by the provinces on absentee landowners. Now at 
last Entre-Rios was persuaded to rescind its levy, and later other 
provinces followed its lead. 

The following year, 1958, saw the number of colonists further 
reduced, and even among those still farming more were not living 
on their land. There were 2,045 Jewish farms and, with family 
members counted, 6,300 people making a living from agriculture. 
By now 95 per cent of the farms were owned by the colonists and 
85 per cent were free of mortgage. The JCA staff was involved in 
making arrangements for social and cultural programmes, and the 
Association continued its support for religious education. JCA 
was still making loans to co-operatives and individuals, on four 
criteria: (1) the repurchase of vacated land, (2) installation of sons 
of colonists, (3) extension of mechanisation (though this doubtless 
contributed to the exodus from agriculture which JCA so 
deplored), and (4) relief in cases of special hardship, as happened 
when drought struck Entre-Rios the year before, or when in 1955 
colony Avigdor had suffered economic difficulties brought on by 
its isolation and JCA restored equilibrium with special credits. 

JCA was also indulging in ventures on its own account, 
producing fruit and wine on the estate in Rio Negro and raising 
cattle on some of the land in the old colonies which it was 
still holding in reserve. This latter enterprise was proceeding 
satisfactorily, but the Rio Negro undertaking began rather badly 
as the crop was injured by frost in 1959. The next year was in 
almost all respects a repetition; JCA earned 1 million pesos on its 
cattle-raising efforts - in less spectacular terms, £4,300 sterling - 
and lost money on fruit and vine growing. By 1962 there was a 
reversal in the performance of these direct farming ventures as 
the cattle enterprise had suffered from the effects of two years of 
drought while the fruit and wine estate, which depended more 
on irrigation than on rainfall and had also benefited from patient 
work of improvement carried out over several years, showed 
markedly better results. The number of Jewish farming families 
in the colonies was down to 1,984, comprising 5,907 persons. 

Through the eyes of a third party 

Towards the end of 1958, A. Alperin, who wrote for the New 
York Yiddish newspaper, Der Tog- Morgen Journal, paid a visit to 
many of the JCA colonies in Argentina and produced a series of 
articles on the subject. ^ He wrote that one-third of the Jews then 
living in Argentina were connected with the colonies in one way 



or another: 'one may have been born on a farm - another may 
have hved . . . there for a time, another may be drawing absentee 
income from a farm that he has turned over to a neighbour to 
work.' He remarks that 'the JCA colonies are the basis of all 
Jewish life in Argentina. The flourishing Jewish community of 
Buenos Aires ... is the direct outgrowth of the agricultural 
colonies.' In the older colonies in Entre-Rios province he met 
second-, third- and even fourth-generation Jewish settlers. He 
talked about 'authentic Jewish gauchos' who had never even been 
to one of the big cities. Alperin quickly perceived that one of 
the great problems of the colonies was the preservation of their 
Jewishness. Like so many other visitors, he was impressed that 
the pupils of the schools in the colonies came many miles on 
horseback to attend. 'Every pupil from the eight-year-olds and 
older rides to school ... to get a Jewish education, to learn 
Hebrew prayers. I watched them riding off home, heads up, 
happy Httle riders. If only their parents displayed the same degree 
of enthusiasm about their children's Jewish education!' He noted 
with sadness that, when he was asked to give a lecture in Domin- 
guez, in the centre of the Jewish settlements in Entre-Rios, and 
was promised a plenteous audience in the 'large auditorium', there 
were only about 'fifty or sixty middle-aged listeners'; and the 
chairman of the evening in introducing him said, 'Had you been 
here fifteen years ago your reception would have been quite 
different and you would have had a larger audience.' When 
Alperin visited colony Avigdor, one of the settlers who conducted 
synagogue services on the High Holydays told him that he 
'doubted there was one person in the congregation who under- 
stands a single word'. And yet he tells of meeting a colonist who 
boasted that he and his neighbours 'observe the Sabbath and do 
no work on their fields that day', and besides 'read Yiddish books 
and newspapers'. Alperin met a number of Yiddish-speaking 
young people, and he opined that this was still the mother-tongue 
of more than 30 per cent of the colonists. 

A question of perhaps greater concern to JCA was whether the 
colonists would remain on the farms. On this point Alperin's 
evidence bore out what we have already remarked: that young 
women were the first to leave, and that their leaving was a 
stimulus to young men to do the same, particularly in the more 
isolated villages where there was a lack of suitable marriage 

Near the end of his account Alperin says 'that the seed of Jewish 
culture planted six and seven decades ago in the soil of Argentina 
still bears fruit', but he has already made it clear in his description 
of his lecture and the Holyday services that this fruit is not very 



plentiful. Alperin then remarks that 'the trend from the farm to 
the city applies not only to the Jewish colonies [but] it is more 
evident in the Jewish colonies'; so he saw that, even though some 
Jews had become 'authentic gauchos', fully acclimatised to rural 
life, their children would not be. 

Further retrenchment 

Although JCA was in some ways slow to respond to the percep- 
tion that its mission in Argentina was over, it needed no persua- 
sion that the diminution in the number of Jewish farmers and the 
increasing independence of those who remained called for a 
gradual dismantling of its extensive administrative machinery. 
This began with the reduction of its field staff in the northern 
part of its area of operation, i.e. the provinces of Entre-Rios and 
Santa Fe, where the majority of the JCA colonists were located. 
The process continued until, eventually, what . administrative 
work was necessary was done from the headquarters in Buenos 
Aires. This meant that JCA's direct participation in local social 
and cultural activities was no longer possible, but it did not 
prevent the Association from continuing to make its usual grants 
to social, cultural and religious institutions. 

The co-operatives 

An unpromising sign in 1962 was the descent of many of the co- 
operatives into financial difficulties. These were in effect bankers 
for the producers, advancing to them the value of the crops before 
their sale. Now, because of inflation (creditors in general do badly 
in inflationary times) and slow payment by the purchasers, the 
co-operatives' own capital position began to be impaired. Never- 
theless, they felt sufficiently emboldened to sponsor the erection 
of a linseed oil mill in Entre-Rios, with financial help from JCA 
and the provincial government. At its beginning this mill operated 
profitably. Unfortunately, in the next year it was out of operation 
for three months because of a fire, but again JCA and the provin- 
cial government came forward with credits to enable it to be 
repaired and reopened. 

The next years saw no major change. About 2,000 families 
continued to earn their hving from the land 'or in related occupa- 
tions' (a phrase occurring regularly in the Association's Annual 
Reports at this time, which clearly meant that the number of true 
farmers was smaller). The co-operatives continued to struggle 



against the effects of inflation and slow payment. JCA made its 
usual grants, including some for vocational training, and made 
credits available for the purchase of equipment, repurchase of land 
and to help growers affected by drought in Entre-Rios. In 1964 
there was a seventy-fifth anniversary celebration of the beginning 
of Jewish farm settlement in Argentina, with events being staged 
in Buenos Aires and Moisesville. (It will be remembered that the 
ill-fated 'Podolians', later rescued by Lowenthal and the Baron 
landed in 1889.) 

JCA's staff was again reduced, paralleling a reduction in the 
number of farmers they served. By 1966 the count of families 
earning a hving from the soil or related occupations was 1,620. 

Land holdings 

The farmers remaining, comprising nine major groups, occupied 
about 375,000 hectares (937,500 acres), of which half was under 
cultivation and half was carrying 300,000 head of cattle. By 1969 
the land in the hands of Jewish farmers was down to 300,000 
hectares. Unfortunately, there are no very accurate and definitive 
figures available on the ownership and disposition of the land 
holdings, in part because of the great reduction in the staff, which 
made impossible the compilation of as comprehensive and exhaus- 
tive statistics as formerly. However, some earlier figures 
contained in the records of JCA are of interest in this connection. 
In 1948 an analysis of the occupancy of the 617,666 hectares 
originally owned by JCA was as follows: 

Occupied by colonist owners 202,031 

Rented by colonist owners to Jews 17,546 

Sold by colonist owners to Jews 63,405 

Occupied by other colonists (tenants) 88,973 

JCA reserve land rented to Jews 79,927 

Total no. of hectares occupied by Jews 451,882 

Rented to non-Jews 81,690 

Sold to non-Jews 44,605 

Sold, not suitable for colonization 39,489 

Total occupied by non-Jews or not farmed 165,784 

Grand total 617,666 

By 1972, when JCA was ready to put an end to its Argentine 
operations, the amount of farm land it still owned was minuscule. 



The dosing process 

The JCA Annual Report for 1971 acknowledged publicly what 
had been patently obvious for a long time to the Council: that 
the Jewish farmers in Argentina, now a well-established group, 
almost without exception the sons or grandsons of the original 
immigrants, hardly needed the assistance of a 'colonising agency'. 
The Association therefore finally decided to withdraw from 
Argentina. The decision had in fact been made long before, but 
little action to implement it was taken until the Fraternidad 
Agraria proposed in 1969 that the co-operatives should handle 
JCA's closing affairs. In the end they did not, but their proposal 
seems to have sparked off the final closing process. 

The termination of the Association's activities in Argentina was 
not accomplished without heartaches, bureaucratic obstacles and 
delays. The JCA Council had for some time been considering the 
creation of a foundation in Argentina to take over and/or realise 
the Association's assets there and to act as a successor organisation 
in respect of any work remaining to be done after its departure. 
Progress in carrying out this proposal 'was slow and hampered 
by successive political and economic crises and natural disasters 
in the colonies such as droughts and floods' -• By 1965 the staff 
had been reduced to ten, and in 1966 it was reduced further to 
three, in one office in Buenos Aires. After the President, Sir 
Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid, visited Buenos Aires in 1967, it was 
concluded that the proposed liquidating foundation might well 
cost more than it could collect, especially in view of the unstable 
economic conditions in the country. 

Because of this rather uncertain state of affairs no action was 
taken until the end of 1969, when the Fraternidad Agraria put 
forward the idea that an entity with a membership drawn from 
the co-operatives should handle JCA's affairs - the assets were 
now estimated at £140,000- after its withdrawal. Such an organis- 
ation, called the Asociacion Baron Hirsch, was accordingly estab- 
lished, with statutes approved by the tax authorities. The neces- 
sary tax exemption registration, however, was not forthcoming, 
despite repeated requests over a period of years. It was presumed 
that the reason for this delay, apart from 'the perennial difficulty 
of dealing with Argentine officialdom', was the country's 'state 
of political instabihty and uncertainty' when no official cared to 
make a decision, 'especially in a case such as this, sui generis' 
When the tax exemption began to seem impossible to obtain 
and other fiscal difficulties had arisen, the idea of a successor 
organisation was abandoned. 

An alternative plan of action, formulated by Mr Joseph Neville 



following his visit to Argentina in October 1973, was adopted by 
the Council. The plan called for the outstanding debts, amounting 
to 544,000 pesos (the exchange rate was then 24 pesos to the 
pound sterhng), to be transferred to tax-exempt charitable institu- 
tions. The farm land still owned by JCA, a mere 500 hectares - 
less than 0.1 per cent of the 600,000 or more that JCA possessed 
at its apogee, and now in the hands of tenants - would be sold 
to the co-operatives; 'suburban' lots would be sold at auction; 
and plots of 'urban' land would be given as gifts to municipalities 
for pubhc purposes. The archives were to be transferred to the 
Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It was expected that the Buenos 
Aires office would close on 31 January 1974, and the building be 
sold. The official hquidation for technical reasons would not 
commence until 1975. JCA's cash resources in Buenos Aires, it 
was estimated, would be sufficient to cover the cost of all the 
above actions. Any surplus, together with debts remaining uncol- 
lected, would be donated to charitable institutions. The 1974 
Annual Report declared that the final disposal of JCA's assets in 
Argentina had taken place 'as a preliminary to the official liquida- 
tion which was to be put in hand later'. 


At present, the active Jewish farmers in Argentina and the 
remaining landmarks of the great JCA colonies are relatively 
few. However, the old co-operatives - Fondo Comunal of Clara, 
Sociedad Agricola of Lucienville, Mutua Agricola of Moisesville 
and others - were still in operation in 1980. Their overhead 
organisation, the Fraternidad Agraria, was very much alive, pub- 
lishing El Colono Cooperador, then in its sixty-fourth year, holding 
meetings and conferences to assess the agricultural situation and 
proposing ameliorative legislation to the government. The Frater- 
nidad was affiliated to Coninagro (Confederacion Intercoopera- 
tiva Agropecuaria), which is the overall representative body of 
the co-operatives that makes recommendations to the government 
for projects of interest and concern to the agriculturists of Argen- 
tina. ^ The names of the directors and staff of the individual co- 
operatives and of the Fraternidad were redolent of their Russian- 
Jewish origin - Salomon Halperin, Samuel Jarovsky, Joaquim 
Pollacq, Enrico Freidemberg, Arturo Melamed 




So, 83 years after it began to buy land and settle Russian Jews in 
Argentina, JCA put an end to its activities in that country. These 
activities had been the major focus of its interest before the First 
World War and an area of great concern during the inter-war 
period. After the Second World War, when the Argentine colonies 
entered a period of declining population, the Association put its 
resources to work in Israel, where the prospects for the consolida- 
tion and improvement of Jewish farming activity and future 
expansion were excellent. This was also the recommendation of 
Sir Keith Joseph, at present Secretary of State for Education in 
the British Cabinet. From 1951 to 1960 and again from 1967 to 
1970 he had been a member of the JCA Council. In 1958 he 
conducted a survey of JCA's activities and arrived at the conclu- 
sion that Israel was the most promising location for the exercise 
of the Association's efforts. He also offered the opinion that JCA's 
day in Argentina was done.^ 

Georges Aronstein had had some perception of this as early as 
1934, when he talked about stagnation in the colonies in the 
absence of further immigration, and made it evident that he saw 
no great prospects for immigration. The doughty Louis Oungre 
had had at least a glimpse of this dull future as far back as 1921, 
when he too had uttered the word "stagnation' But between the 
first glimpse, full perception and action based on that perception 
there were many long intervals. Set minds change slowly, and it 
is hard to move from an accustomed and comfortable groove; 
JCA had not hurried to do so. 

Long before the end, it was obvious that the Baron de Hirsch's 
massive strategy - to move vast numbers of Jews out of oppres- 
sion in Russia and create from them a great class of independent 
Jewish farmers in South America — was far from attainable by 
JCA. And indeed, his parallel object of defusing anti-Semitic 
canards by demonstrating that Jews could be successful tillers of 
the soil was not attained, least of all in Argentina, which is among 
the most anti-Semitic of countries. Shall we, then, mark the 
Baron and his creation, JCA, as failures, responsible for a waste 
of vast effort and, in current terms, millions of pounds sterling? 

It JCA did not move millions of Jews from Russia, it moved 
thousands: in place of a life of misery with no prospects, they 
and their children were offered a life of opportunity. JCA is to 
be credited not only with improving the lot of the thousands of 
families it moved to Argentina, but also for its vital role in 
opening that and other countries in South America as destinations 
for Jewish emigrants in their hundreds of thousands, eager to flee 



Eastern Europe for safe havens overseas. In Argentina itself, not 
only did the JCA immigration and the wider influx to which it 
led add a vibrant, capable and useful element to the country's 
mix of peoples, but specifically the JCA colonists made notable 
contributions to the development of Argentine agriculture. They 
introduced co-operatives and the benefits thereof to the country; 
as late as 1972 it was estimated that half the Argentine farm co- 
operatives were operated mainly by Jews. Jews were among the 
first, if not the first, in the country to practise rational crop 
diversification. They introduced important crops like alfalfa, 
Sudan grass, sunflowers and groundnuts, and were among the 
first fruit producers.'' Poultry rearing was largely a Jewish occu- 
pation. The first large grain elevator in the country was erected 
by a Jewish co-operative, Fondo Comunal, in Colony Clara; the 
first creameries were also started by Jewish co-operatives. When 
after the Second World War the Argentine government founded 
an Institute for Colonization and an Agrarian National Council, 
they largely borrowed their plans and programmes from the JCA 
colonies and their organisations. And quantitatively, Jews still 
play a part in Argentine agriculture. According to Judith Elkin, 
'Independent Jewish farmers and cattlemen in Argentina presently 
own some eight hundred thousand hectares [2 million acres] 
including land within the original colonies.'^ 

Few would question that it is better to be alive in Argentina 
than dead in Poland or the Ukraine, and death would have been 
the fate of thousands of Jewish families if they had not been able 
to leave Europe for Argentina in the years before the Second 
World War. To quote Judith Elkin again. 

As European Jewry entered the Holocaust Kingdom, each 
individual who found his way to the Dominican Republic 
or to Bolivia represents a triumph. Jewish farmers of 
Argentina (and the paradigm will serve Brazil and Uruguay 
as well) found not only secure homes, but also time and space 
in which to orient themselves to their new environment 
hnguistically, ecologically, behaviorally.^ 

What fate now holds in store for them in the present (December 
1983) state of the Argentine polity is unpredictable, the country 
having just enjoyed its first democratic election in years. It would 
seem that the days of military dictatorships which were blemished 
by the suspension of civil liberties and the disappearance without 
trace and without trial of thousands of citizens, amidst a strong 
aura of anti-Semitism, are over and done with. There are therefore 
grounds for at least muted hope for the future. 



JCA World-wide 

This chapter may have something of a patchwork appearance, for 
it wanders all over the map, from East Africa to North Africa, 
from Canada to South America, and even to Australia. Further- 
more, the programmes in the countries dealt with have little in 
common; for example the long-established farm settlement efforts 
in Brazil and Canada do not share much common ground with 
the loan schemes for housing and tuition intended for North 
African immigrants in Paris. The actions discussed, however, do 
have a common time frame, i.e. the period from 1945 to the 
present. And they also have a common theme - the withdrawal 
of JCA from either a long sustained or a more recently initiated 
activity, a withdrawal dictated by the cessation of Jewish immi- 
gration to the area of interest or, as in Tunisia and Morocco, 
by the large-scale departure of the Jewish population from the 


Towards the end of the Second World War a notable event in 
Brazil from JCA's point of view was a fire at Quatro-Irmaos, 
which was a heavily wooded area. The fire raged for several 
months, and when it finally died out JCA found itself with a vast 
amount of partly burnt timber on its hands which it tried to sell 
off as best it could. To the surprise of Isidore Eisenberg, the JCA 
administrator, the price obtainable was very good; this led him 
to recommend, and JCA to adopt, a policy of selling its timber, 
which for the next few years became a major preoccupation of 
the management - all the more so since further Jewish settlement 
in the colony had virtually ceased.' So the JCA staff occupied 
themselves mainly in negotiating with buyers and operating JCA's 
18 kilometre railway, which was connected to the main Brazilian 
system and was used chiefly to transport the timber. 

But this is not to say that things were quiet. In 1948 Quatro- 
Irmaos was invaded by intruders who squatted on sections of 



JCA's land. The local police were not overly interested in 
protecting the possessions of a foreign corporation and made no 
attempt to expel the uninvited visitors. In the next year, however, 
the government took a hand in the affair and arranged a settle- 
ment, of which JCA bore the brunt. Those intruders who had 
the wherewithal were allowed to retain the land they had seized, 
provided they could pay something to JCA. Those who could 
not make any payment were moved from Quatro-Irmaos and 
given plots of government land elsewhere - with JCA contri- 
buting to the cost of moving them. 

In Rezende, where before the war JCA had also purchased some 
land on which it hoped to settle refugees from Europe (who in 
the event were not allowed into Brazil), JCA had relocated some 
Jewish families already in the country. But now the government 
started taking steps to expropriate this land, claiming to need it for 
a military academy. JCA decided to do whatever was necessary to 
protect the interest of the settlers. However, realising also that 
discretion was the better part of valour, the Association began in 
1948 to sell some of the land, keeping only a building and part 
of the acreage to be used as a holiday camp for children from Rio 
de Janeiro. 

Despite its difficulties with invaders at Quatro-Irmaos, JCA 
had new sawmills installed, as the price of timber continued 
favourable. For the same reason it maintained the railroad in good 
operating condition and was also able to sell plots to sawyers. 
Meanwhile some sons of settlers were persuaded to remain at 
Quatro-Irmaos, and in 1951 and 1952 25 sons of previous settlers 
were installed there. At first, at least, they were quite successful 
and they helped to maintain the Jewish population, which in 1954 
was 299, consisting of 94 families. 

In this same year a large number of Jews were brought to the 
country by HIAS. JCA, in collaboration also with JDC, set up 
loan kassas in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to help them. This 
in effect constituted a revival of the kassa movement in these 
cities, which had helped thousands of immigrants before the war. 
The Sao Paulo kassa was especially active, in 1955 making 152 
loans, totalling 2.5 million cruzeiros (£12,500), to help immigrants 
estabhsh small businesses and integrate themselves into the coun- 
try's economy. In Rio only 29 loans were made, for 650,000 
cruzeiros. The kassa in Sao Paulo, however, proved so successful 
that when in 1956 large groups of Jews began to arrive from 
Egypt in consequence of the Israeli campaign in the Sinai, and 
from Hungary following the quickly crushed anti-Soviet insurrec- 
tion there, another kassa was opened in that city to help these 
latest refugees; it made 100 loans amounting to 1.8 million cruz- 



eiros. Another new venture in which JCA joined because of its 
longstanding interest in vocational education was the establish- 
ment of an ORT school in Rio de Janeiro. 

Meanwhile, at Quatro-Irmaos, timber sales continued at remu- 
nerative prices and the railway covered its expenses. The Jewish 
population was still holding up fairly well, at 284. But though 
sales of timber went on for a year or two longer, the end was 
now in sight; by 1958 it was believed that almost all the market- 
able wood had been sold. By 1959 the railway had become so 
little used that JCA started to sell off the rolling stock, consisting 
of 2 engines and 33 freight cars. With the timber all but gone, 
JCA also resolved to dispose of the land remaining in its hands 
and sold 8,000 hectares in 1959 and 1960. With the end of JCA 
activity imminent, the Jewish population of Quatro-Irmaos 
declined to 33 families in 1961. It turned out, however, that the 
price of timber in Brazil rose so high that it became worth-while 
for JCA to garner the wood of poorer quality that was still left 
and sell it. Continuing to divest itself of the rest of what it owned 
there, JCA in 1961 and 1962 disposed of a few remaining pieces 
of railway equipment as well as another 2,000 hectares of land. 
There were by now only 20 Jewish families at Quatro-Irmaos. 
Despite this relinquishment of its property in Rio Grande do Sul, 
JCA continued to make contributions to cultural and religious 
institutions in the Brazilian cities. 

The story of JCA in Brazil was not yet quite finished. Some 
land remained in its ownership, but the sale of another 4,000 
hectares in 1963 reduced its possession to a few scattered parcels. 
Jewish immigration had dwindled, and the loan programme was 
therefore terminated in 1964. In its ten years of activity the loan 
scheme had been responsible for 1,850 loans to a total of 91 
million cruzeiros (£90,000) to help newcomers get started in small 
businesses. A year later a housing loan operation in which HIAS 
had participated was also terminated, having granted 845 advances 
in the years 1962-5 totalling 39 million cruzeiros (£11,000). The 
collection of the amounts remaining due was handed over to the 
Sao Paulo Jewish Welfare Board. By now JCA retained no interest 
in any part of Brazil, except that for many years it continued to 
make contributions to a sheltered workshop for the elderly and 
physically handicapped in Sao Paulo and to the ORT school and 
the Hospital Israelita in Rio de Janeiro. 

The sale of land and timber brought in approximately £600,000. 
Of this sum, after the grants to the institutions named above and 
a few other minor annual donations, most of the rest was invested 
in two buildings in Rio de Janeiro, as the money could not be 
transferred from Brazil. 2 The Association continued to help 



support these local agencies until, finally, it decided to realise its 
remaining assets in Brazil. 

What was the result ofJCA's years of effort in Brazil? The final 
assessment depends on one's point of view. That the Jewish 
settlers had left Quatro-Irmaos - a colony, it must be emphasised, 
buried in an inhospitable forest - Isidore Eisenberg regarded as a 
sign of his and JCA's failure, and one not compensated for by 
the fact that the individuals concerned had gone on to prosper in 
such places as the city of Porto Alegre. Eisenberg was a fervent 
adherent to the idea of the creation of an agricultural class among 
Jews; but to one who does not hold such firm views, the fact 
that many Jews entered Brazil as would-be farmers but achieved 
prosperity in some other occupation would not seem to be a 
matter unduly to be deplored. If JCA, challenging economic and 
sociological realities, did not create a substantial Jewish agricul- 
tural class in Brazil, it did accomplish there - to a lesser degree, 
to be sure - what it achieved in Argentina. It helped to make the 
country a locus of Jewish immigration, opening it up for thou- 
sands of immigrants from Eastern Europe, many of whom it 
aided directly, not only by way of agricultural settlement but 
through the loan programmes run in partnership with JDC and 
HIAS. Through JCA's help to Jewish institutions like schools 
and synagogues, its encouragement of translations of Hebrew 
religious texts into Portuguese and its support of the visits to 
Brazil of Rabbi Raffalovich in the 1920s, it made a significant 
contribution to the raising of the consciousness and the revitalis- 
ation of the Jewish community, which today, considering its size 
- 150,000 - is an influential element in the life of the country. 

This concludes the story of JCA in South America, but to 
complete the tally of the Association's involvement in that 
continent and to make clear the geographical extent of its interests 
we must note that in the 1950s JCA participated with JDC in 
establishing small lending agencies in Santiago, Chile, and Monte- 
video, Uruguay. The Santiago office was closed in 1963 because 
of the near-cessation of Jewish immigration; the one in Monte- 
video was kept open for another year. And one final good work 
must be mentioned. In 1960 JCA, together with JDC and the 
Jewish community of Santiago, made a grant to help victims of 
an earthquake in Chile. 




After the Second World War JCA did not attempt to place new 
settlers in western Canada, but it did what it could to maintain 
the existing ones there. It also placed immigrants on farms in the 
provinces of Quebec and Ontario, particularly the latter, 
although, as compared with the scale of the Association's coloniz- 
ation work in the past, relatively few individuals were involved. 
JCA's major post-war settlement exercise in Canada took place 
in the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, where farms suitable for 
growing fruit or producing milk were purchased in 1948 for 
$220,000, with the idea of settling 25 families recruited in the 
Displaced Persons camps in Europe. Buildings were erected, land 
was prepared for cultivation and a central machine station was set 
up. Sixteen families were installed in 1949 and a few more arrived 
later. The usual loans were granted to meet the various needs of 
the farmers, and by 1952 JCA found it possible to discontinue 
the operation of the central machme station and sell the equipment 
to the settlers. In that year also JCA hired a Hebrew teacher for 
the children. In the course of the next few years the newcomers 
were successful in making their way in the New World. By 1955 
six of them had progressed to the point of acquiring ownership 
of their farms with the help of mortgages, and six more did so 
the following year. By then there were 19 families in the group. 

In 1954 JCA embarked on a new scheme, that of making loans 
to individual Jewish farmers who had settled in the provinces of 
Quebec and Ontario independently or with the help of the 
Canadian Jewish Congress - a programme similar to that of the 
Jewish Agricultural Society in the United States. By 1960 32 such 
loans had been made, for a total of $59,600, and there were now 
31 families in the area living on farms originally purchased by JCA 
or, in the case of the beneficiaries of the loan scheme, purchased or 
developed with the help of JCA. 

In 1959 a new project was commenced; a loan kassa for new- 
comers was set up in Toronto in conjunction with Canadian 
Jewish Congress, in response to the increased immigration from 
Hungary and Egypt. In the fourth quarter of 1956 1,500 Jewish 
immigrants from Hungary entered Canada. Then Israel's attack 
on and capture of the Sinai, concerted in 1956 with the British 
and French assault on the Suez Canal, triggered an exodus of 
Jews from Egypt. In 1957 6,000 more Jews arrived in Canada, 
three-quarters of them from Hungary. From the inception of the 
Toronto kassa in 1959 to the end of 1965, 105 loans were made 
for a total of $154,000. In 1965 the kassa's activity increased 
significantly as immigrants from Morocco began to arrive in 



substantial numbers following the removal of restrictions on 
departures from that country. They came to Canada because as 
French speakers they expected to feel more at home there (those 
who ended up in Toronto were, so to speak, an 'overflow' from 
the francophone areas). 

As these Jewish immigrants were not the pioneering type who 
had populated the settlements in the western provinces, JCA took 
no active steps to add to those settlements. The Jewish farming 
fraternity there began to disperse, shrinking from 116 families 
(337 people) in 1950 to 76 famihes (201 souls) in 1957. The next 
year the area was afflicted by an intense drought, and the Jewish 
farm population was further reduced in consequence, notwith- 
standing the 'dried-out bonus', as the government grants to the 
drought victims were called. But if drought came, so did liquid 
relief, of an interesting sort. There began to be rumours that the 
area of Jewish settlement in Saskatchewan might overlay oil- 
bearing strata, and by 1960 oil companies were doing exploratory 
work in Sonnenfeld colony. However, the Jewish farm population 
continued to decline, falling to 39 families (112 people) in 1960. 

The loan programme for scattered individual families in 
Ontario and Quebec also contracted, as larger and larger sums, 
more than JCA or the settlers wanted to risk; began to be required 
for the purchase or development of a farm. In 1964 only 5 indivi- 
dual loans were made, and in 1965 only 4. In that year 44 families 
were living on farms in eastern Canada purchased or improved 
with JCA finance. 

In the west the oil prospectors had commenced drilling on land 
where JCA had been astute enough to retain the mineral rights 
even when it sold the land; in 1967, the Association received oil 
royalties of $7800. 

In that same year, with JCA's help, the Lincoln County Baron 
de Hirsch Congregation and Community Centre was completed. 
Lincoln is in eastern Ontario, near Niagara Falls, conveniently 
located for the majority of the Jewish farmers, who used the 
Centre as a synagogue, a Hebrew school and a meeting place for 
social activities. The Toronto kassa continued at its previous level, 
making 24 advances. The repayment record of the small immi- 
grant businessmen, chiefly from Morocco, who became the 
predominant borrowers was excellent. 

For the next decade the pattern of JCA's activity in Canada 
remained much the same, except that the loans made to individual 
farmers continued to dwindle because, on the one hand, of the 
decrease in the number of apphcants quahfying for such assistance 
and, on the other, of the constant rise in the price of land and 
equipment. In 1974 JCA reported that this loan progamme had 



been responsible for 115 loans totalling $531,000, of which by 
that time only $110,000 was still outstanding. The number of 
families still living on farms purchased or developed with JCA 
credit under this programme had actually risen somewhat, to 60, 
but this figure represented less than half the total number of farms 
- about 140 - for which JCA had made loans in eastern Canada. 
In addition, there were in the two provinces about 60 Jewish 
farmers who had had no connection with JCA. The Niagara 
group was doing well with fruit, dairy and poultry production 
and the raising of cattle and pigs (obviously, they were not 
Orthodox Jews). The Lincoln Centre continued to be lively and 
well attended. In the west, 38 families remained, and the oil 
royalties continued to flow into the JCA treasury, albeit on a 
comparatively modest scale; the prospects were still favourable, 
for the oil companies were agreeable to renegotiating the leases. 

At bottom, however, it was clear that there was no longer any 
point in considering Canada as a possibility for settling Jews as 
farmers. Land prices were too high, and Jewish immigrants in 
any case were attracted to vocations other than farming, of which 
on the whole they had no experience. The same trend was observ- 
able in the United States, where the Jewish Agricultural Society 
had its period of greatest settlement activity in the years 1945-50, 
when the Displaced Persons Act permitted about 65,000 refugees 
from central Europe to enter the United States and about 7 per 
cent of these became farmers. But as Jewish immigration fell to 
a trickle thereafter and the cost of starting a farm increased, the 
Society found itself making ever fewer loans, until in 1970 it 
went out of existence altogether, being merged into the Baron de 
Hirsch Fund. 

The one JCA activity in Canada that continued at a steady level 
was the Toronto loan kassa. In addition to immigrants from 
Morocco, some began to arrive from the USSR; and because of 
this last group of newcomers the kassa was more active in 1976 
than ever before: it made 53 loans for $118,000, contributing to 
a total of 410 loans for $670,000 since inception of this agency in 

Apart from this, however, JCA's interests in Canada had by 
now diminished to a point where it was no longer worth-while 
to maintain an office there, and by 1977 winding-up plans had 
been worked out with JCA's Canadian Board. The sale of the 
farmland in Saskatchewan begun in 1976 was completed, most of 
the buyers being the existing tenants. Most of the other assets and 
the income therefrom were transferred to the Jewish Community 
Foundation of Greater Montreal, which proposed to employ them 
as far as possible for purposes similar to those of JCA. The 


11a Quatro-lrmaos, Brazil, 1930. JCA's railway 

lib Rezende, Brazil, 1939. Colonist's house 

12a Quatro-lrmaos, Brazil, 1950. 'Reception day' at tlie administrator's office 

12b Quatro-lrmaos, Brazil, 1952. Extracting the timber 

13a Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada, 1953. M. Gottschalk, JCA Vice-President, and 
V. Girmounsky, Director General, visiting a farmer settled by JCA 

^VHwd: i.^/iHi >• lj,V 

13b Buenos Aires, 1954. JCA representatives received by General Peron, President of 
Argentina. (L to r. J. Callus, JCA's Argentine manager, V. Girmounsky, Director General, 
General Peron, Sir H. d'Avigdor Goldsmid, JCA President, Dr R. Dubrovsky, Council 

14a Casablanca, Morocco, 
1953. Jewish artisans in the 

14b Casablanca, Morocco, 
1953. The loan kassa 
manager interviewing 


supervision of the funds that JCA had provided for the Toronto 
kassa was also transferred to the Foundation. In 1978, with its 
affairs thus disposed of, JCA was able to close its Montreal office. 
As in South America, JCA's settling of some thousand or more 
farmers in western Canada helped to open the country to Jewish 
immigration and achieved whatever good is achieved by proving 
that Jews can be successful farmers under difficult conditions. 
Perhaps more important, JCA worked with the Baron de Hirsch 
Institute in assisting tens of thousands of the immigrants who 
came to Canada in the years before the First World War by 
receiving them in the ports, finding jobs for them, organising 
classes in English and other subjects, and at times undertaking 
legal action to enforce their right of entry. After the war, too, 
JCA and JIAS, which JCA helped to establish, made possible the 
immigration to Canada of thousands who, but for the activities 
of JCA, JIAS, HICEM and the Canadian Jewish Congress, would 
not have been able to enter. This was notably so in the case 
of the 3,000 Russian-Jewish refugees from Romania who under 
arrangements made by JCA reached Canada in 1923-4. 

North Africa 

JCA had long been aware of the economic plight of the Jews of 
Morocco, which seemed to cry out for aid from their brethren 
of the Western World. Various measures of constructive assistance 
had been contemplated, but it was not until 1950 that JCA, in 
consultation with the Alliance Israelite Universelle, which main- 
tained a longstanding and extensive educational programme in 
North Africa, decided on a concrete course of action: this was to 
train young men in agricultural skills and, if the training project 
was successful, place them on farms. In 1951 JCA and the Alli- 
ance, which provided 10 per cent of the initial capital, established 
the Societe Agricole pour les Israelites Marocains (SAIM). A 
property of 96 hectares was purchased at a place called Fkih-ben- 
Salah on which a combined training and settlement scheme was 
to be carried out. 

A generation later, it is hard to discern the nature of JCA's 
motives in attempting to establish agricultural training and farm 
settlement for Jews in Morocco. It was not likely that many 
candidates would be available for this sort of venture. Further, 
what kind of permanent settlement could be made in this Muslim, 
Arab country? Anti-Israel, anti-Jewish feeling was not, in the 
early 1950s, as strong as it later became, after four wars between 
Israel and the Arab states and 33 years of violent hostility and 



frequent bloodshed, but such feeUngs did exist and were strong 
enough. Also, the Association might have remembered its experi- 
ences in Turkey, where long before the creation of Israel the anti- 
Jewish feelings of the MusHm Turks made it impossible for the 
JCA colonies to continue. 

Despite such considerations, JCA and the Alliance, impelled by 
the desire to help a community so badly in need of support from 
the Jewish world outside, decided not to leave even an unlikely 
stone unturned in developing what alternatives they could for the 
deprived Jews of Morocco. At this time the possibilities offered 
by migration to Israel, France or Canada had not yet taken shape. 

SAIM began by recruiting 12 young men, all graduates of 
Alliance schools in Morocco, to study farm management and 
practices. The next year, their studies completed, this group was 
replaced by another 12 young men, also from the Alliance schools 
at Marrakesh and Meknes. At the same time, houses for the 
first four settlers were constructed and four families with some 
pretensions to an aptitude for farming were installed and furnished 
with animals and implements. The training centre managed to 
produce a crop worth 4 million francs (£2,800). In the next year 
four more houses were constructed, but the land needed by the 
settlers reduced the amount available to the training centre, which 
produced crops to the value of only 1.77 million francs. This 
reduction was also due in part to poor weather and low prices. 
So far, most of the young men having completed the course at 
Fkih-ben-Salah had been found some sort of work in agriculture, 
and the eight families settled were able by 1956 to repay to SAIM 
4 million of the 7 million francs advanced to them. But Morocco 
had just received its independence from France, and tension was 
mounting. Despite the tensions, and also the strains on 
Arab-Israeli relations arising from the Suez War, the centre 
continued in operation, and by 1958 27 young men had completed 
the training course. There was practically no crop that year, 
however, owing first to excessive rainfall and then to a drought. 
The next year saw a considerable improvement in climatic condi- 
tions, and the settlers, who were chiefly occupied in raising cattle, 
found this sufficiently profitable to permit them to discharge their 
entire short-term indebtedness to SAIM. 

But all was not well at Fkih-ben-Salah. With an increasing 
uneasiness spreading among the Jews of Morocco, it was 
becoming more and more difficult to find young men willing to 
enhst for agricultural training, especially in a spot so far removed 
from the main areas of Jewish population. It was therefore decided 
to discontinue this activity, and in 1960 the training centre was 
closed. The small group of settlers, too few in number for full 



viability, not over-endowed with farming skills and now without 
the training centre on which they had depended for various agri- 
cultural and other services, could not be expected to achieve the 
object originally conceived. So the farm settlement scheme was 
also terminated, and the families found means of making a liveli- 
hood elsewhere in Morocco. The whole property was then sold 
and the Societe Agricole pour les Israelites Marocains liquidated. 

At the same time as JCA was working with the Alliance to 
establish an agricultural settlement and training centre, it was 
collaborating with the Joint Distribution Committee to set up a 
system of loan kassas in the cities to supply Moroccan Jewish 
artisans with a source of credit for the purchase of tools, materials, 
etc. In 1950 there were about 200,000 Jews in Morocco, and the 
first loan kassa was opened in Casablanca in 1953; by the time 
their activity came to an end concomitantly with a great decrease 
in the Jewish population, the Moroccan kassas had provided a 
service to several thousand borrowers. 

And not only in Morocco, for JCA and JDC decided to extend 
the scheme to Tunisia (where there were 71,000 Jews in 1946). A 
loan kassa commenced operations in Tunis in 1953, and in 1954 
a branch office was opened in Sfax. In 1955 these two kassas made 
276 loans, totalling about 15 million francs (£3,000), of which 13.5 
million was repaid within the year; in addition, 149 members 
received 4.5 million francs in bank loans guaranteed by the kassa. 

The Casablanca establishment lent 11.5 million francs (£2,300) 
in that year, of which nearly half had been repaid by the year's 
end. The next year new kassas were opened in Marrakesh and 
Fez (serving also Sefrou and Meknes), while the business of the 
one in Casablanca, the location of the country's largest Jewish 
community, increased to 362 loans totalling 16.5 million francs. 
In Tunisia also there was an increase in activity, the two agencies 
there distributing 506 loans for 24 million francs (£4,800). 

The kassas supplied not only credit but also technical assistance, 
to encourage their borrowers, who were chiefly shopkeepers, 
shoemakers and workers in leather, metal, wood and textiles, to 
learn modern methods and the use of modern tools. In 1957 the 
Casablanca office was even busier, as its services were extended 
to Jews from the hinterland: 480 loans were distributed that year. 
In the same year the office in Marrakesh made 320 loans, Fez 250 
and Rabat, another new kassa, 127. In Tunis 300 loans were 
granted and a number of bank loans were again guaranteed. 

In 1958 the Moroccan government, under various adminis- 
trative pretexts, suspended the operation of the kassas in Casa- 
blanca and Rabat for five months; the others were apparently not 
affected. Despite this action, the programme of technical aid, 



especially for shoemakers, went on without interruption. In Tunis 
also a five-month hiatus was imposed on the kassa on the pretext 
that its legal status was not in order. 

In a review by JCA in 1959 of the work of the kassas in 
Morocco since their inception in 1953 (half the financing was 
provided by JDC, it will be remembered), it was stated that 203 
million francs (£40,600) had been lent, that the average loan was 
about 600,000 francs (£125), and that 152 million francs had been 
repaid. About three-quarters of the borrowers in Casablanca were 
artisans, the rest small tradespeople. In the other Moroccan towns 
the proportion of shopkeepers was higher. In Tunisia the loans 
had totalled 120,000 dinars (£100,000) and repayments 97,000 
dinars. The borrowers were almost entirely artisans except for 28 
victims of a flood disaster in the town of Gabes who were the 
recipients of credit. 

The activities of the North African kassas increased, if anything, 
in 1960 but they were checked in both countries in 1961. In 
Tunisia the cause was the aftermath of the 'Bizerta incident' in 
July, when a sizeable flight of Jews from the country took place. ^ 
The effect of the emigration from Tunisia showed up clearly in 
the loan figures: 474 loans, for 34,000 dmars, in 1960, 292 for 
21,400 dinars in 1962. In Morocco, in October 1961 the govern- 
ment decreed that Jews could leave the country. A great many 
rushed to take advantage of the opportunity, and the kassas' scale 
of lending dropped abruptly. 

By 1963 business in the Rabat and Marrakesh offices had fallen 
so far that they were closed and the remnants of their activities 
transferred to Casablanca. The demand in Fez was still enough to 
justify maintaining that kassa. Since inception the Moroccan 
kassas had made 6,851 loans totalling £261,000,'* of which over 
90 per cent was repaid. In Tunisia, the hard times being experi- 
enced by the Jewish artisans and shopkeepers because of the 
deteriorating economic conditions resulted in the level of opera- 
tions being reduced still further. Here, since inception 3,465 loans 
had been granted, almost exactly half the number in Morocco, 
totalling £195,000; repayments, again, were close to 90 per cent. 

In 1964 the emigration fever among Moroccan Jews had spread 
to Fez, but the fewer loans made were offset by the raising of the 
loan limit, so that owners of workshops and small retail businesses 
still found it worth their while to borrow from the kassa. In the 
next two years the wave of Jewish emigration began to abate. 
The outbreak of the Six-Day War in Israel in 1967 brought about 
increased emigration again from the two countries and consequent 
reductions in kassa activity. The flight reduced Jewish population 
by 1969 to only 40,000 in Morocco and 10,000 in Tunisia. Despite 



anti-Jewish political attitudes, the borrowers remaining in both 
countries were able to do well enough to maintain a satisfactory 
repayment record. Two years later the Jewish populations were 
reduced still further - to 35,000 in Morocco, where the Fez office 
had been closed, leaving only the one in Casablanca, and to 8,500 
in Tunisia, where the kassa ceased operations at the end of 1971. 
In Casablanca the kassa remained active and started to guarantee 
letters of credit, as had been done in Tunis many years before. 

The departure of Jews from both countries continued through 
the following years, accelerating in Morocco in 1972 because of 
an attempted coup d'etat against the King; this frightened many 
Jews, who felt that the monarchy was their sole defence against 
the generally chauvinist, anti-Semitic feelings of most of the 
population. The Yom Kippur War in Israel in 1973 increased the 
rate of Jewish departures again, and the greatly reduced demand 
and the uncertain political situation resulted in the closure of the 
Casablanca office in 1974. 

In the course of their existence the kassas in North Africa made 
more than 14,000 loans totalling over £1 million. Their help to 
artisans and tradespeople in the purchase of materials, tools and 
equipment kept thousands of small businessmen out of the 
clutches of money-lenders and rapacious wholesalers. Most 
important, they introduced a new concept into the area: that of 
constructive rehabilitation for people in distress rather than the 
demeaning almsgiving which had been the only form of assistance 
they had previously known. 


A large proportion of the Jews who left Morocco and Tunisia 
went to France (many of them held French nationality), and the 
influx from North Africa increased further after the revolutionary 
insurrection in Algeria which preceded the attainment of indep- 
endence by that country in 1962 - almost all of Algeria's 140,000 
Jews fled. Already by 1956 the Caisse Israelite de Demarrage 
Economique (CIDE - the Jewish Fund for Economic Renewal), 
a loan agency of France's Jewish community, was overwhelmed 
by the demands from Jews from North Africa, and turned to JCA 
for help. This was forthcoming in the shape of a credit to be used 
for the issue of loans for business purposes to immigrants from 
North Africa. For years thereafter JCA continued to provide 
finance for CIDE to this end. In 1958, for example, CIDE made 
449 such loans from the money advanced by JCA; in 1959, 317 
loans and in 1960, 281. In 1960 CIDE made 1,532 loans alto- 



gether, so that the loans to North Africans made with JCA money 
were about one-fifth of the Fund's total operations. 

In November 1961 JCA, JDC, the Central British Fund and 
the Fonds Social Juif Unifie (FSJU) together set up an agency to 
make housing loans to immigrants. By the end of 1962, 521 such 
loans had been issued for 1.5 million francs (£109,000). By 1964 
the capital of the Housing Fund amounted to £180,000, JCA's 
contribution thereto being £57,000. The CIDE loans to immigrant 
North Africans were still being made to the number of 100 or 
more each year. 

The two loan activities in Paris continued steadily for the next 
few years, until 1967 when the Six-Day War in Israel gave a 
further stimulus to migration from across the Mediterranean. The 
Housing Fund was particularly affected; it made 479 loans in 1967 
and 334 in 1968. By 1970 the pace of CIDE and Housing Fund 
lending to North Africans was slowing down, but now refugees 
from Poland and Egypt were added to the borrowers. In this 
year, moreover, the Housing Fund, with matching sums from 
FSJU, began to finance a Students' Revolving Fund, to make 
loans, repayable after graduation, to immigrants attending college 
who for reasons of nationality were ineligible for state aid; in 
1970 and 1971 332 such loans were granted, mainly to young 
people from Morocco and Tunisia. 

The Yom Kippur War in Israel, like the Six-Day War, stimu- 
lated further immigration to France, bringing an increase in acti- 
vity to both the Housing Fund and the Student Fund. In 1973 the 
Housing Fund made 132 loans for the equivalent of £49,000 and 
the Student Fund, 177 for £23,300. For the next two years these 
two funds continued working at a high level, but by 1976 the 
number of advances made by the Housing Fund fell sharply. 
From its inception in 1961, it had made 3,799 loans for over 13 
million francs which helped to provide housing for some 21,000 
individuals. The loan activities in France are still being carried on, 
but at a much lower level of activity than in the years of big 


In 1953 Mr Leslie Prince, the member of JCA's Council who 
more than any other undertook long journeys on its behalf (he 
also carried out missions in Kenya, Canada and Ethiopia at various 
times), visited Austraha. His assignment, on behalf of JCA and 
JDC, its partner in this as in so many other projects, was to 
consult with the Australian Jewish authorities on the situation of 



Jewish immigrants from Europe, the possibiUty of further 
numbers being absorbed and the advisabihty of setting up a 
lending agency to facihtate this. It was concluded that an institu- 
tion similar to a loan kassa would be very useful, and on Mr 
Prince's recommendation JCA and JDC proceeded accordingly in 

1954. They jointly advanced £20,000 to the Jewish welfare soci- 
eties in the states of New South Wales and Victoria to finance 
immigrants who wished to start or carry on small business enter- 
prises. In the first year A£6,500 was lent (A£5 = £4 sterling). In 

1955, when the activity had got into full momentum and JCA 
and JDC had doubled their contribution, 63 loans, for A£29,650, 
were made. After 2, 500 Jews, a large number by Austrahan terms, 
entered the country in 1957, 80 per cent of them from Hungary, 
the operation reached a new level: 86 loans were granted in 1958. 
By then repayments were coming in at a good rate and there 
were no defaults. 

At the same time, because housing was in short supply, JCA 
and JDC financed a plan to assist immigrants to buy dwellings. 
Instead of making loans to individuals, the welfare societies depos- 
ited the money provided by JCA and JDC in banks to constitute 
a guarantee fund for housing loans advanced by the banks. In this 
way the respectable total of 219 such loans was guaranteed in 
1957. By the end of 1959 the number had reached 533. 

In 1962 yet another scheme in the housing field was initiated. 
JCA, on its own this time, provided capital of A£100,000 for the 
creation of a co-operative building society in Sydney. This 
amount was absorbed by 34 mortgage loans to applicants selected 
by the Welfare Society. 

The loan programmes in Australia progressed steadily. By the 
end of 1965, 665 business loans and 1,286 housing loans had 
been made. There were now three co-operative building societies 
financed by JCA; by 1969 there were five. In May 1972 JCA's 
investment in Australian loan activities stood as follows: 

Original loan programme 

£ 33,422 

Housing loan funds 


Co-operative building societies: 









In the next few years Jewish immigration to Australia came nearly 
to a halt and the business loan programme, which was intended 
for newcomers, wound down accordingly. The demand for 



housing loans also slackened. In accordance with the terms on 
which the finance had been supplied by the sponsoring organisa- 
tions, the welfare societies began to repay to them such of the 
money as could no longer be used for the purposes for which it 
had been provided. By 1977 the Melbourne Welfare Society had 
repaid the whole, and the Sydney Society a substantial part, of 
the JCA and JDC funds that had been under their control. 

Altogether, the loan activities in Australia in which JCA had 
been concerned were responsible for distributing about 1,000 
business loans, 1,620 housing loans and over 150 more housing 
loans through the five Sydney co-operative societies, a total of 
approximately 2,800 separate loans. There was, no doubt, some 
overlapping between business and housing loans, and some indiv- 
iduals may have received more than one business loan; but after 
making allowance for this we estimate that at least 2,000 immi- 
grant families received JCA-connected loans. This is an impressive 
figure, for there are only 70,000 Jews in Australia, constituting 
about 17,500 families, of whom two-thirds, or 11,600, are immig- 
rants who arrived after the Second World War.^ Therefore nearly 
one-fifth of these recent arrivals benefited from the loan activities 
sponsored by JCA and its associates. 


As part of the Jewish organisations' wide-ranging search for any 
possible haven for refugees from Germany during the 1930s, the 
Central British Fund and the Council for German Jewry took the 
step of incorporating the Plough Settlements Association Ltd in 
London in August 1938. Its object was to settle German Jews in 
Kenya. The company had an authorised capital of £25,000, of 
which JCA agreed to subscribe £5,000. Two members of JCA's 
Council, Leslie Prince and Leonard Montefiore, were among its 

In November 1938 a committee sent to Germany selected 28 
candidates, consisting of 20 young bachelors and 4 married 
couples. Some of these people were from farming backgrounds 
and others had received agricultural training. An advisory 
committee was formed in Nairobi, where 19 of the would-be 
settlers arrived early in 1939. Most were placed with local farmers 
for training, but before all could be taken care of, the war had 
begun. Nine thereupon joined the Kenya African Rifles Regiment; 
10 others, who were acting as managers of farms, were for that 
reason considered not available for mihtary service. Because of 
the war all action regarding permanent settlement was deferred. 



With the war over and those who had joined the Army dis- 
charged, the settlement project was revived. JCA made a loan to 
Plough of £25,500 to provide the necessary capital. Seven farms 
of from 400 to 960 acres in size were bought in Kenya and 
occupied by ten of the settlers (there were three partnerships). 
The settlers were granted ownership subject to mortgages to 
Plough. The remainder of those who had originally come to 
Kenya left the country or were able to take care of themselves. 
By 1948 JCA had moved into the position not only of financing 
the company, but of controlling it, Leslie Prince having been its 
chairman since 1943. In 1948 Prince and Georges Aronstein of 
the JCA staff visited Kenya and reported that the ten settlers were 
making good progress. The Kenya government, however, made 
it very clear that they considered the Plough effort concluded. 

By 1950 some of the settlers gave weight to the report made 
two years earlier by Prince and Aronstein by making sufficient 
repayment to enable two additional farms to be purchased by 
Plough, and two new settlers were installed as tenants with the 
prospect of ultimate purchase. But the Mau-Mau troubles which 
began in 1952 eventually made living and working in Kenya very 
difficult for the white farmers. This led the Plough settlers to 
dispose of their farms over the period 1955-63. The money 
invested and lent by JCA was fully repaid, and in 1965 the 
company was placed in liquidation. * 


The Falashas are a group of black Jews in Ethiopia numbering (in 
1978) about 25,000; they are scattered in over 400 villages around 
the city of Gondar, about 200 miles north of Addis Ababa, and 
about 3,000 are in the province of Tigre, northeast of Gondar. 
Their legend connects them with the Queen of Sheba, but modern 
scholarship opines that they are descended from tribes in the area 
of Yemen and Aden who were converted by the many Jews Uving 
in that region 1,500 or more years ago and then crossed the Red 
Sea to Ethiopia. It is said that by the fifteenth century there were 
no fewer than 500,000 Hving in their own kingdom, but wars 
and conversion to Christianity reduced their numbers to a small 
fraction of what they had been. Their existence was largely 
unknown to the European world until the beginning of the twen- 
tieth century, when they were visited by Jacques Faitlovitch, a 
French sociologist and orientahst. He brought out a small group, 
had them educated in Europe and brought them to the attention 
of Jewish communities in Western Europe and America. In 1907 



JCA showed interest in the estabHshment of a school for Falashas 
in Eritrea, but the expected financial participation of the Alliance 
Israelite did not materialise. 

The Falashas are in effect a class of inferior status in Ethiopia 
('Falasha' is a term of denigration), cultivating with medieval 
methods plots of land they have not been permitted to own. 
Through all their tribulations they have maintained a Jewish ritual 
of a pre-Talmudic cast, including the practice of circumcision and 
observance of dietary laws, the Sabbath, and certain Holydays. 
Whether or not they should be recognised as authentic Jews was 
long treated as a debatable point. In more recent years the presence 
of visitors has given them the opportunity to express their 
consuming desire to migrate to Israel. However, during the reign 
of Haile Selassie, the last Emperor, deposed in 1974, and under 
the communist regime that succeeded him, no one was permitted 
to emigrate. Nevertheless, by 1979 a couple of hundred Falashas 
succeeded in reaching Israel. In 1980 and 1981 they were followed 
by about 1,500 more, who walked hundreds of miles on foot and 
spent months in refugee camps en route. In Israel, where they have 
now been recognised officially as Jews, they have effected the 
transition from their almost medieval situation to modern life 
very well. 

In 1965 JCA, under the urging of some important members of 
England's Jewish community who were interested in the Falashas, 
began to pay for the sending of Israeli instructors to the area 
around Gondar, to teach young Falashas Hebrew and Jewish 
history. This action was repeated thereafter. The JCA Annual 
Report for 1971 (p. 11) describes the Falasha community as 
'enduring great poverty and exposed to the dangers of proselytism 
and extinction'. JCA was by then paying the salaries of 18 of the 
teachers in 13 village schools with about 800 pupils and giving 
grants for construction and repair work and for furniture, books 
and equipment. In 1973, by which time the number of pupils 
involved had risen to 950, it was agreed with the American Joint 
Distribution Committee and the Central British Fund that all help 
to the Falashas, which now included welfare and medical services 
(provided mainly by 'dressers', though one or two Israeli doctors 
paid occasional visits), should be channelled through the Falasha 
Welfare Association. Based in London, this body was constituted 
by a number of organisations and individuals who had hitherto 
been working together on a consultative basis. Unfortunately, 
political unrest in the country was mounting, making the teaching 
and relief work very difficult. 

In 1976 a census was undertaken by the Falasha Welfare Associ- 
ation and 28,000 Falashas were counted. Since then their numbers 



have probably declined, as a result of both emigration and 
outright slaughter, carried out by wandering groups of bandits, 
anti-government guerilla groups and possibly by 'regular' troops. 
The World ORT Union took over the assistance programme 
in 1977; but, on account of disturbed conditions and fighting in 
the Gondar area and the anti-Semitic attitude of the local provin- 
cial governor, ORT found it impossible to continue, and was 
obliged to suspend its activity in Ethiopia in 1981. 


Settlements founded by JCA alone or D 
jointly with ttie Jewish Agency 

Settlements developed jointly by the 
Jewish Agency and JCA 

Settlements founded jointly by the 
Jewish Agency, JCA and the 
Baron de Hirsch Fund 


Misgav AmpQ. J 


GorenO Even 


Kishorn „ 

TuvalD Shazo.O 
|#ACRE "°'^" 

Manol O 






O ^ "^^^ Mivtach 

,^Oq [XQOrolfi 
Kta^'warburg D oaJ^ ^««' ^^^'^ 

r HodayaO QSeguHa 

Nir BanimQ j-,Menucha 
rwasheinO RevachaO ^ONahala 

aO ONoga p g^^ ^^^.^^ 

^ OEylan DLachisf 



Map 5 Israel: Settlements associated with JCA, 1934-83 (continued 
on facing page) 

// ^> 

-J* / .' D Kfa- Maimo 

/ ^ 

/ OBAD 1 

1 /u 

/ / 


\ / 








Neol Hakikar '-^ y 




YOan D J 


Ha2.vaH ■ 







Beer TzoFai O 

Paran ■ | 






Yahel ■ 1 


Lolan ■ . ' 
Klura ■ • 




Samar □ | 


Ehpha^O i 

Settlements founded by JCA alone or 
jointly with the Jewish Agency 

Settlements developed jointly by the 
Jewish Agency and JCA 




j 10 20 

1 ^ ^ 1 

• : Miles 

■) /■ 

/ EILAT / 

Settlements founded jointly by the 
Jewish Agency. JCA and the 
Baron de Hirsch Fund 


Educational Institutions A 
Researcti Institutions ▲ 


/ / 



A K(ar Hanoar Hada'ti 
Ktar .Nve Yaar . 
Gahm *A Nahalal ^ 

A Shfeya 

A Alonei Ytzhak 
A Pardess Hanna 
^ Vir'on Hedera 

A Emek HeHer 



A Petach Tikvah 

A Ben Shemen 


Volcani Centre 
^ Faculty of Agncullure, 
^ Ayanot *Rehovolh . 

i,y . A ^ 

^Kanol EinKarem • 

/Beer^ A Achva JERUSALEM/ 

' Tuvia^ A Kedma 

Sh% A Lachish Centre 
Even Shmuel 

AEshel Hanassi 

Ramat Hanegev i 

Neot HakikarAj 

Sapir Cenire A/ 

5 10 15 20 25 

\ / 

■ YolvelaA 



Elath - Marine Laboratory 

Map 6 Israel: Educational and research institutions assisted by JCA 



The work of Emica 

Emica had time before the Second World War to establish two 
colonies, Beer Tuvia and Kfar Warburg, i about 15 kilometres 
southeast of Ashdod in the Lachish area. Their agricultural prac- 
tice at the beginning was based on mixed farming, with dairying 
as the core. All through the war these two villages expanded; for 
Palestine was a major supplier of produce to the British forces in 
the Middle East. By 1947 Beer Tuvia had a population of 697 
and Kfar Warburg, the younger of the two, 248. 

With the effects of the war behind it, and Israel from 1948 an 
independent nation, Emica by 1949 was ready to expand its two 
settlements. But now it had a new partner. This potent new 
participant - to the extent of 50 per cent - was the Jewish Agency, 
the organ created in 1929 by the Zionists in conjunction with 
prominent non-Zionists like Felix Warburg. The Agency was 
established in accordance with that section of the League of 
Nations Mandate for Palestine which called for an 'appropriate 
Jewish Agency, . . for the purpose of advising and co-operating 
with the administration of Palestine in such economic, social and 
other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish 
National Home and the interests of the Jewish population in 
Palestine'. From 1929 until the estabhshment of the State of Israel, 
the Agency 'played the principal role in the relations between 
the National Home and world Jewry on the one hand and the 
Mandatory and other powers on the other'. 2 As matters turned 
out, after Israel became independent the Jewish Agency became 
the main recipient of the funds raised by the United Israel Appeal. 
Among the most important of its many functions, then and now, 
is land settlement and the reception of immigrants. 

Under the arrangement between Emica and the Agency, work 
was begun in 1950 on adding 35 houses and related farm buildings 
to the two colonies. While this development went forward Emica 
decided to transfer its great project, the draining of the Huleh, to 
the Keren Kayemet (Jewish National Fund), the land purchase 



and conservation fund of the Zionist Organisation. The Keren 
Kayemet carried out the plans commissioned by Emica, 
completing the task by 1958. The drainage of the Huleh added 
80,000 dunams (20,000 acres) of fertile soil to Israel's land 
resources, increased the supply of water entering the national 
water carrier, and eliminated the plague of malaria from the north- 
eastern section of the country. While some thought had been 
given to a drainage project at the turn of the century, under the 
Turkish regime, much of the credit for this bold, imaginative and 
successful undertaking must go to Maurice Hexter and Louis 
Oungre who, as far back as 1932, had had a concept of what could 
be done in the Huleh, and under whose initiative the critically 
important surveys were carried out and plans drawn up. 

In 1951 Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid, the son of Sir Osmond 
(who had been JCA's President from 1934 until his untimely 
death in 1940), himself became President of the Association. He 
lost no time in paying a visit to Israel, the first JCA President to 
do so on behalf of the Association. This visit, the first of the 15 
or so he made between that time and his death in 1976, was 
indicative of his deep interest in Israel. As Sir Keith Joseph had 
pointed out in 1958, Israel was now the most favourable location 
for a JCA agricultural settlement programme; but there is a world 
of difference between undertaking a project only because there is 
no other choice and embracing it with enthusiasm even if it i5 the 
only one feasible. 

However, the great expansion of JCA's work in Israel lay some 
years in the future. For the time being Emica contented itself with 
enlarging its settlement programme by adding a third village, 
Avigdor, and beginning to plan for a fourth, Nir Banim, both in 
the same Lachish area where the first two were situated. The 
growth of the settlements continued without interruption, not 
only in population but also materially and financially. By 1954 
the milk cattle, now numbering 1,350 in Beer Tuvia and 1,100 
in Kfar Warburg, were giving excellent yields, and in consequence 
the settlers were ahead in meeting their repayment schedules. 
They enjoyed a high standard of living in Israeli terms, meaning 
that they had electric power and the advantages of household 
apphances like refrigerators. Beer Tuvia had a medical clinic and 
a general store, Kfar Warburg a communal centre. The residents 
of the two newer settlements, Avigdor and Nir Banim, who had 
been carefully selected not only for their innate qualities but also 
for how well they would fit in with the others, lived on a scale 
not far below that of the older communities. 


15a Avigdor, Israel, 1955 

15b Kfar Warburg, Israel, 1960. Farmer's house 

16a Beer Tuvia, Israel. The school 

16b Nir Banim, Israel. The communal hal 


JCA gets into its stride 

In 1955 there took place a change seemingly of slight practical 
importance but of considerable symbohc significance. Emica, for 
whose management and finances JCA had already for some time 
been wholly responsible, became formally a subsidiary company 
of JCA and its name was changed to 'Jewish Colonization Associ- 
ation (ICA) in Israel'. 

Nir Banim had enjoyed a successful first year, and the construc- 
tion of 15 additional houses was begun. Plans were made for the 
establishment of a fifth village, and by the end of 1956 65 houses, 
a store and a communal meeting house were well on their way 
to completion there. In the next year this newest settlement, given 
the name of Sdeh Moshe to commemorate the Baron de Hirsch, 
was in full operation, had produced a crop, and had added a 
school and kindergarten to its facilities. The five JCA settlements 
in the Lachish area were now peopled by 362 families, 1,843 
individuals; they cultivated 25,000 dunams, of which about half 
were irrigated; their principal products were milk and its deriva- 
tives, poultry and vegetables. 

Growth, in both population and crop returns, continued into 
1958, and JCA began to plan for a sixth settlement. This was to 
be devoted chiefly to industrial crops such as groundnuts and 
cotton, although it would also have poultry, vegetables and citrus. 
An experiment in growing bananas was initiated at Sdeh Moshe. 
An important new departure in 1958 was JCA's decision to set 
up a revolving loan fund of ILl million^ for the purchase of fodder 
by the colonies. This was the first of a number of similar pools 
of credit which JCA established over the subsequent years to 
make various kinds of loans to the settlements. 

Ten years after Israel's independence, the pace of JCA's work 
in the country began to quicken. Planning started for a seventh 
settlement, and an eighth was discussed. The area at the disposal 
of all the JCA villages had increased to 57,000 dunams, of which 
16,000 were irrigated. The basic activity was still milk production 
(in fact, in 1961 4.6 per cent of all Israel's milk came from the 
JCA settlements), but poultry, eggs and beef were also important 
products, citrus planting was being started in some of the settle- 
inents, and in the newer ones industrial crops like sugarbeet, 
cotton and groundnuts were grown. Vegetable growing was 
restricted to what the limited allocation of irrigation water would 
allow. The ILl million loan fund was working effectively (IL5.04 
at this time equalled £1 sterling); and with its aid the colonies 
were able to buy fodder and fertiliser at relatively favourable 
prices. They continued to prosper, their receipts in 1960 being 23 



per cent more than in the previous year. Other aspects of hfe 
were not forgotten, as plans for a big cultural centre in the Beer 
Tuvia-Kfar Warburg district bear witness. The population of the 
seven JCA settlements at the end of 1960 was 2,119. 

The moshav 

The JCA settlements were all moshavim, a form of organisation 
responsible for about half of Israel's agricultural output. A moshav 
essentially is composed of families who own and operate their 
farms individually, making their own decisions as to planting, 
cultivation, crop protection, harvesting, etc., albeit in consulta- 
tion with the other farmers in the village, with a view to achieving 
the best results. The moshav does, however, have a number of 
communal characteristics. For one thing, at the initial stage, 
before the land is fully prepared and houses and other structures 
built, the members may cultivate in common the area assigned 
to the group, although they settle in their own houses and on 
their own plots as soon as these are ready. Afterwards, the moshav 
as a community will perform certain services for each member, 
such as selling his produce co-operatively or hiring big and specia- 
lised machinery for a particular task, and will provide amenities, 
such as a retail store, that are the customary functions of a village 
organisation. Members producing the same crop may band 
together in a co-operative for buying, selling, cultivating or 
harvesting it. But in the end the individual owner is responsible 
for his own fields or barns or greenhouses, and is free to dispose 
of his holding or to buy and add to it. 

JCA by tradition was intended to help create a self-sufficient 
class of Jewish farmers; therefore, in the settlement work that it 
undertook in Israel it was inclined to be favourably disposed 
toward the moshav type of organisation. This did not, however, 
prevent the Association at a later stage from working wholeheart- 
edly with kibbutzim, the collective type of farm settlement which 
makes up the other half of Israel's agricultural scene and which is 
perhaps better known to the outside world than the moshav. 

The consolidation plan 

In the period after Israel attained independence there was a great 
flood of immigrants into the country. They came from all corners 
of the earth - Holocaust survivors and displaced persons from 
Europe; from the internment camps of Cyprus; from the Arab 



countries of North Africa and southwest Asia, where many had 
been treated as second-class citizens; from India; from Persia. A 
milHon Jews came into a country that at the end of 1948 had a 
population of only 750,000, and most of the newcomers arrived 
in the first four years of independence. This enormous intake put 
great pressure on the Israel government and the Jewish Agency 
to fmd permanent homes and jobs for the immigrants, tens of 
thousands of whom had to live in poor, temporary quarters 
{Ma'abarot) like tent cities for several months and sometimes 
longer. It was no wonder, then, that when the authorities of the 
Agency had time to draw breath they found that many of the 
hastily assembled agricultural villages to which they had sent 
recent arrivals from Yemen, Iraq or Morocco were poorly 
planned, too small, or not well enough equipped to provide a 
decent living for their inhabitants - who, in addition, may not 
have known very much about modern farming. No wonder, too, 
that the hard-pressed Agency turned for help to JCA, which had 
demonstrated considerable expertise in developing agricultural 

Consultations between the Agency and JCA resulted in 1960 
in the formulation of what was called a consolidation plan, to 
benefit some 20 under-developed villages populated by recent 
immigrants. A fund of IL12 million, over one-third supplied by 
JCA, was to provide loans to ameliorate the condition of these 
sub-standard settlements and put their inhabitants on the road to 
self-reliance. Most of the villages in the plan were in the south, 
not far from the Lachish area where JCA had been working. 

'Consolidation' required a variety of tactics, such as increasing 
the number of farm units, extending and improving irrigation 
systems, buying good cows from Holland and other countries, 
installing equipment for poultry raising, acquiring machinery and 
providing additional working capital for the purchase of fertiliser 
and other supplies. Transport and communication were improved 
by laying down internal roads. The organisation of the villages 
was rendered more cohesive by the construction of communal 
buildings. By 1964 work on the scheme was completed. Twenty- 
one settlements, containing approximately 1,650 families 
numbering 8,500 persons, had been affected. Their income in 
aggregate had risen in three years from IL11.5 million to IL20 
million, an average increase of 74 per cent; some of them had 
doubled their income. 



The Start in Galilee 

The favourable outcome of this enterprise encouraged JCA to 
undertake another, again in collaboration with the Jewish Agency. 
This concerned agricultural and economic development in Galilee, 
in the north of the country, far from the Lachish area to the south 
where JCA's previous settlement activities had been concentrated. 
Before 1964 was over, preliminary work on this was 
begun. It was to start by establishing two new settlements of 60 
families each near the Lebanese border. In 1966 the first families 
arrived and it was decided that JCA and the Jewish Agency should 
build a third settlement in the area. JCA's work in Galilee was 
broadened further to include an existing kibbutz, Kfar Hanassi, 
to the south of the three new villages, about 12 kilometres from 
the border. The plan here was to enlarge and improve the means 
of agricultural production. This was the first kibbutz to become 
part of the JCA 'family' and one, incidentally, where the settlers 
came mostly from EngHsh-speaking countries. 

Further progress at Lachish 

In 1964 Kfar Maimon and Moshav Lachish, the sixth and seventh 
of the Association's 'own' colonies, were completed and were in 
operation. Milk and beef continued to be the chief sources of 
income, but an expansion of poultry production enabled the 
returns from this branch almost to equal those from milk and 
meat. Following a decision of the Ministry of Agriculture that 
industrial crops should play a greater part in the crop rotation, 
the area under sugarbeet and cotton was tripled. 

An interesting new development was that JCA started making 
loans for the acquisition of farms by the sons of some of its 
original settlers. In order to widen the outlets for the products of 
the villages, JCA supported ventures for further processing - a 
cattle and poultry slaughterhouse and an oil-extraction plant that 
produced cattle feed. As usual, the Association's interest went 
beyond the economic; the building of a social and recreational 
centre was now begun in the Beer Tuvia-Kfar Warburg sector, 
to commemorate (a little belatedly, although it had actually been 
planned at the proper time, 1961) the seventieth anniveisary of 
JCA's founding. Assistance was given for the erection of 
community centres in other places also. 

The population of the seven settlements had reached 2,300 and 
the area controlled had risen to 67,000 dunams, of which 37,000 
were arable and 21,300 irrigated. Income from poultry was now 



on a par with that from beef and milk, and the industrial crops 
had also become important sources of revenue, as was citrus 
expected to be in the future, for plantings of this crop were greatly 
expanded. As its colonies grew, JCA enlarged its credit services 
by offering short-term loans for carrying crops till marketed and 
medium-term loans of three to eight years for construction 

The Six-Day War and after 

One of the most astonishing aspects of the Six-Day War of June 
1967 was how little it disturbed Israel's economic rhythm. In fact, 
it can be said to have given the county's economy, which had 
been somewhat in the doldrums, a considerable jolt. 

There was a growth of production due to deferred 
accumulated demand, defence orders and the need to replace 
dwindling military and civilian stocks. Some demand for 
Israeli goods for the population of occupied territories and a 
revival of foreign tourism were additional stimuli. In the 
agricultural sector, basic development projects such as knd 
amelioration, irrigation and afforestation continued and 
production rose by 13 per cent compared with 2 per cent 
and 3 per cent respectively during the two previous years. 
The successful agricultural year is the more remarkable in 
the light of the war and the period of mobilisation when 
almost the entire farming generation was in the armed forces 
and the work was carried out by women, children and the 

Thus said the JCA Annual Report for 1967. 

In the light of the above, it is not surprising to learn that most 
of the projects JCA had planned for that year went forward almost 
without interruption and some new developments took place. 
Thus, Beer Tuvia and Kfar Warburg were able to export dairy 
cattle, which was a real tribute to the skill and assiduity of the 
Israeli producers. Some of the earlier JCA settlements began to 
build greenhouses for growing flowers - mainly roses but some 
carnations also - to supply European demand for off-season fresh 
blooms before the end of winter. This trade, which has since 
grown to enormous proportions, was made possible by a very 
efficient computerised system whereby the Israeli grower, 
informed by telephone of up-to-the-moment demands, picked 
and transported the flowers immediately to Lod airport, where 
they were instantly loaded and flown to cities like Rome or 



Hamburg for delivery the next day. As the sources of capital - 
government, Jewish Agency and farm co-operatives — would 
provide only 70 per cent of the cost of erecting greenhouses, JCA 
made supplementary loans to farmers who were able to invest 
only a small part of the cost. For the rest, the Lachish settlements 
did well in this war year when crops, especially cereals, were 
exceptionally good because of unusually heavy rainfall. 

Expansion in Galilee 

In Galilee the two new villages completed in 1966 were settled in 
many cases by children of farmers who went to the region shortly 
after 1948. In the next year construction of the third settlement 
was finished, but the people had not yet moved in. 

JCA continued to expand its interests in this area by taking five 
more settlements under its wing. These had been founded in the 
1950s by immigrants from North Africa, Hungary, Czecho- 
slovakia and Latin America. Galilee is a quite mountainous terri- 
tory, which to this day has been a problem for the Israeli authori- 
ties because its Jewish population is smaller than that of Arabs. 
It is also a problem from the agricultural point of view because 
of its rocky terrain and because its topography prohibits extensive 
fields. In consequence the chief branches of agriculture practised 
have been orchards, for which level land is not indispensable, and 
poultry, which requires little land. Another difficulty was that 
some of the settlements near the Lebanese border had been located 
there more for security than agricultural reasons; they had little 
cultivable land, and sometimes that was situated at a considerable 
distance from the houses. 

The problem was how to increase the income of the settlements 
under such difficult circumstances. Certain steps were compara- 
tively simple - the enlargement and intensification of poultry and 
fruit production, and, in aid of this, an inquiry into improving 
methods of coop construction and orchard planting, two subjects 
on which JCA supported research for many years. Other steps 
were, as in the south, to bolster the settlements' organisational 
structure by improving the internal roads and communal facilities. 
Discovering new crops that could do well in Galilee's tough 
environment was an obvious tactic and JCA tried to encourage 
some of the settlers to grow avocado pears and to construct 
greenhouses for flowers. Alternative sources of income included 
industrial and resort development, and some of the villages 
already had small factories for making irrigation equipment. JCA 
encouraged further moves in this direction such as the building 



of guest houses and the creation of facilities for meat-processing 
and the manufacture of ceramic insulators. 

To complete the story for 1967, in addition to its work with 
its 'own' villages and with about eight more in Galilee, JCA 
undertook a programme of enlargement and extension at Brur 
Hail, a kibbutz in the Negev. 

More consolidation 

The year 1968 saw JCA's return to the south, where it was now 
to do further work with 15 of the 21 settlements it had assisted 
under the big consolidation programme of 1960. Selected farmers 
were to be helped to intensify their operations and their houses 
and poultry coops were to be improved; also, roads in the villages 
were to be paved. Some help was still needed by certain farmers 
in JCA's original seven settlements; the more progressive ones 
needed credit for the construction of greenhouses and the install- 
ation of systems for growing vegetables under plastic for export 
to replace dairy and egg production. This enabled more traditional 
operators still producing milk and poultry to obtain larger quotas 
within the limited total allowed and made their farms more 
efficient and more profitable, a very important consideration for 
the moshav as a whole, for the members were bound by the 
principle of mutual guarantees. The fact that some members of 
the well established, generally prosperous moshavim were heavily 
in debt was therefore a source of concern to all, and this means 
of increasing their income lightened the burden for the settlement 
as a whole. 

In Galilee JCA took on four additional villages. These were 
peopled by a diversity of immigrants from Hungary, Britain, 
Brazil and Argentina (some the grandchildren of JCA settlers in 
those countries) and by the second generation from older settle- 
ments in Israel itself. The plans were for enlargement by the 
provision of additional farm units or the extension of existing 
ones, and in many instances short-term debts were refinanced by 
longer-term credits. 

By this time JCA had engaged in financial and advisory rela- 
tions with no fewer than 41 settlements, containing 15,000 inhabi- 
tants. With the Jewish Agency it had initiated seven settlements 
in the Lachish area and two in Galilee and had worked to 
'consolidate' - to use the term it preferred - more than 20 already 
established villages in the south and about 10 in Galilee. As time 
went on it became apparent that a programme of initiating or 
consolidating settlements tended to be open-ended; there was no 



very definite limit, no borderline that marked completion. If, as 
in the case of the old original settlements, they were well towards 
having paid off the loans made to them at the beginning, new 
techniques and opportunities created a need for fresh credit. 
Having an established relationship with JCA, they turned to it as 
a further lender, the more so as the Association, in pursuit of its 
mission of helping Jewish farmers, was willing to make credit 
available at something less than the prevailing commercial or even 
government rates. 

The management of JCA was quite conscious of the fact that 
'its' villages had advantages, that the 'JCA connection' meant that 
these places could and would attain higher levels of development 
than the general run. Others, it was hoped and expected, would 
eventually reach the same level, albeit later and with more 
difficulty. Such matters as these are hard to quantify, but at a 
rough estimate the JCA settlements, which constituted about one- 
tenth of the 400 or so established after Independence, were two 
or three years ahead of the others. In one sense this might be 
thought to give certain fortunate settlers an unfair advantage; but 
in defence of JCA and its partner, the Agency, it should be pointed 
out that the resources of both were limited. To try to spread JCA 
financing over hundreds of settlements would have meant that 
each recipient would have obtained a pointlessly small amount. 
Therefore it was necessary to limit the number to be helped, and 
the ones chosen were those suffering from special handicaps, like 
living in the difficult terrain of Galilee, or having had little educ- 
ation and a limited cultural background, for example some of the 
immigrants from North Africa or Kurdistan.-* 

JCA 's loan programme 

Now that JCA was making loans in such a large number of 
settlements, its system of providing credit had been, as it were, 
institutionalised. Its loan programme had a four-pronged 

In the case of a new community, JCA and the Jewish Agency 
would come to an agreement that a total investment of, say, IL2 
milHon would be required to prepare the land, install irrigation 
works, build roads and provide the buildings and equipment and 
other facilities needed according to the type of farming to be 
engaged in. JCA would supply a substantial proportion - usually 
half - of the capital in the form of a loan in pounds sterling to 
the Agency, which would supply the other half and carry out the 
work of preparation and construction within a specified time 



limit, usually three years. TheJCA loan to the Agency would be 
at a concessionary rate of interest and repayable over a 15-year 
period. The whole sum for the founding of the village would be 
represented by an indebtedness of the settlers to the Agency on a 
long-term basis in Israel pounds. Other agencies, when necessary, 
would be called upon to do specific parts of the work; for 
example, the Ministry of Housing would erect dwellings, the 
Jewish National Fund would carry out land reclamation. 

Similar to the financial procedures described above were the 
programmes for the consolidation and extension of existing settle- 
ments in need of help to improve or attain full economic and/or 
agricultural viability. JCA's first big effort in this direction, 
involving 21 villages in the south, as already described, lasted 
from 1960 to 1965. Then in 1967 a similar programme for six 
settlements in Galilee was undertaken and planned to be 
completed by 1969. In the meantime, another four Galilean settle- 
ments were included in a scheme begun in 1968, and yet another 
four, also in Galilee, in a programme that commenced in 1969. 
The details of this last, as described in the Annual Report for 
1969, provide a good illustration of what was meant by 'consoli- 
dation' and how JCA went about it: 

Even Menachem (population 360), situated in Western Galilee, 
was founded in 1960 with settlers of North African origin. 
The main branches of farming engaged in are fruit and 
poultry. Although the community is socially sound, its 
income is low. The new programme provides for additional 
fruit plantations, the enlargement of the irrigation network, 
the introduction of irrigated fieldcrops and the extension of 
livestock branches (poultry and sheep). Additional farm 
buildings and cold storage space for firuit will also be provided. 

Dalton (population 615), in Upper Galilee, was established 
in 1952 by religious immigrants, mostly from Libya. The 
farming embraces fruit, poultry, beef cattle and sheep. The 
development plan is intended to raise the income of the 
farmers by increasing the area under fruit, enlarging the 
irrigation network and improving farm buildings and 

Metulla, one of the oldest moshavoth in Israel, was founded 
in 1896 by Baron Edmond de Rothschild. The settlers, of 
Russian origin, were joined in 1958 by other immigrants from 
Eastern Europe, and the total population is now about 300. 
The development programme has as its main purpose the 
creation of 24 new farm units for sons of settlers and the 



consolidation of the farms established in 1958. The population 
will then be over 400. 

Kibbutz Farod, in Upper Galilee, has a population of 270. 
Founded in 1948 by Hungarian refugees, it was one of the 
first settlements in this mountain area then largely occupied 
by Arabs. The kibbutz has a high social and cultural level. The 
consolidation plan is intended to raise the settlement's income 
substantially by adapting new land for fruit growing in the 
mountains, installing new irrigation on land allocated to the 
settlement in the coastal plain of Galilee, and developing 
livestock branches. This will enable the kibbutz to double its 
agricultural resources and allow for the absorption of a 
substantial number of new members. 

In 1969 JCA invested £170,000 in consolidation and extension 
schemes of this nature. 

Once a village was established and the farmers and their families 
had moved in, JCA stood ready to provide direct credit to the 
settlement or individual settlers. Medium-term loans, repayable 
over a period of three to five years, would be given for a variety 
of productive or communal purposes, while short-term loans (one 
to six months) would be used for day-to-day farming needs or 
for bridging purposes (for example, a temporary loan for 
constructing a farm building pending the arrangement of 
permanent financing), or to provide revolving capital to carry 
crops until they could be sold favourably. Continuing with 1969 
as our typical year, we see that medium-term loans to a total of 
1L1.6 million (!il90,000) were provided in 27 settlements and 
short-term loans to a total of 1L3 million (£357,000) in 30 settle- 
ments. Under a joint scheme with the Agricultural Bank (Bank 
Yaad), 65 loans for IL2, 125,000 (£254,000) were made to settle- 
ment co-operatives and individuals. 

The variety of purposes for which the medium-term loans 
might be used is well illustrated in the percentage breakdown for 


Productive purposes 


Farm buildings and hothouses 


Water supply and irrigation 


Fruit plantations 




Machinery, equipment, fishponds 


Industry, crafts, services 






Other purposes 





Communal buildings 


Shelters, etc. 


Public services, roads, electricity, sewage 







Geographically JCA's programmes for the settlements it was 
assisting at the end of the 1960s can be divided into four regional 

1 old moshavim in the south; 

2 immigrant moshavim in the south, many inhabited by people 
from North Africa; 

3 moshavim in Galilee; 

4 kibbutzim, mostly in Galilee, though later a few in the Arava. 

Educational work 

JCA's work, especially with people from Arab countries who had 
been educationally deprived and sometimes did not appreciate the 
value of education for their own children, roused the Association 
to the need for including educational activities in its programme. 
Another factor in this situation was the perception that there were 
two Israels, which might be quickly, if too simply, classified as 
the Ashkenazic and Sephardic, roughly equal in numbers but not 
otherwise. Generally speaking, the first group, of European origin 
and with European attitudes and values, was the class from which 
government servants, business people and academics were drawn. 
They expected their children to succeed them in such callings. 
The Sephardim, whose style and philosophy of hfe had been 
conditioned by their birth and upbringing in Arab, Middle 
Eastern countries, were in general the hewers of wood and 
drawers of water, their occupational opportunities constricted by 
their lack of training and education. Their patriarchal traditions 
dictated that the father should be the dominant figure in the 
family, but inadequate housing and 'foreign' examples of freedom 
undermined the parents' control. As the numbers of such families 
grew and the clash of cultures became more evident, the alienation 
of the children found expression in movements like the 'Black 
Panthers', fomented by the existence of large numbers of school 
drop-outs - perhaps as many as 25,000 in the mid-1970s - who 



wandered the streets without having access to any kind of job or 
organised activity, a fertile ground for the growth of crime or 
hoohganism. JCA, aware of the need for agricultural education 
to elevate the capabilities of the country's future farmers, also saw 
in agricultural boarding schools, where children freed from over- 
crowded city dwellings could be given an education and training 
in a fresh, country atmosphere, a means to fulfil two ends with the 
same instrument. The whole Israeli nation eventually awakened to 
the importance of providing specialised educational opportunities 
for the underprivileged children, but JCA could point with 
justified pride to its having been a pioneer in this regard. 

In the 1950s JCA had begun to make grants to the Youth 
Aliyah agricultural training centre at Beit Dagan near Tel-Aviv 
and to the Mikveh-lsrael agricultural school, also on the border 
of Tel-Aviv. Mikveh-lsrael is a place of historical interest. 
Founded in 1870 as an early part of the Alliance Israelite school 
network in the Middle East, it was in a sense .the first organised 
step taken in Palestine by modern Jewry, 25 years before the 
founding of what can be called the official Zionist movement 
(although the Alliance was far from being a proto-Zionist organis- 
ation). JCA made grants to Mikveh-lsrael continuously for many 
years and in 1970 undertook to pay for the rehabilitation of three 
of its ancient dormitory buildings. In 1972 the Association moved 
on to participate in the construction of a new dormitory at the 
Pardess Hanna agricultural boarding school, and in the next year 
it bore part of the cost of building new kitchens and dining halls 
at schools at Kanot and Kfar Hanoar Hadati. 

JCA was aware that in all probability agriculture would not 
expand enough to provide employment for all the youth from a 
farming background. They would therefore need instruction not 
only in agriculture but in other vocations, so as to be able to take 
advantage of other openings. At the same time, many of the farm 
children in the settlements associated with JCA came from the 
same kind of underprivileged Sephardic families as their city coun- 
terparts. Guided by such considerations, JCA in 1972 made a 
grant for building vocational departments in regional secondary 
schools in Beer Tuvia and Shafir in the south. The plans were 
worked out in conjunction with ORT-Israel, which operates the 
largest vocational training programme in the country. The 
Messing Foundation granted an interest-free loan, and the govern- 
ment and the regional authorities provided the remainder of the 
funds needed. In 1973 a similar scheme was initiated for the 
regional school at Kfar Blum in the north. 

JCA not only contributed facilities to these schools but also 
provided scholarships to help poor boys and girls attend them. 



The Yom Kippur War 

Although the Yom Kippur War of 1973 imposed a very severe 
strain on the country, which suffered thousands of casualties, 
including the deaths of 39 men from JCA-associated settlements, 
and sslw the mobilisation of 45 per cent of the male working 
force, the amount of immediate economic disruption was remark- 
ably small, physical damage was minimal and recovery was rapid. 
What happened later, in consequence of the raging inflation that 
developed after the war and the defence measures inspired by it, 
is another story. 

JCA's President, Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid, paid a visit 
to Israel immediately after the war's end, and the Council at his 
urging adopted an expanded programme, although the objectives 
were on the same lines as before. JCA's investment programme 
in 1973 covered 17 settlements including Shear Yashuv, a border 
village whose development had been hindered by Syrian artillery 
barrages. The plan was to expand the moshav by increasing the 
number of farm units. Most of the other settlements included in 
the programme were in Galilee, many of them inhabited by 
oriental Jews with large families, and here, as before, the emphasis 
was on poultry raising and fruit growing; but there was much 
else. In some of the places cold storage and meat and fruit packing 
facilities were introduced; fish ponds were dug; a metal factory 
was enlarged; and regional services for processing and storing the 
area's agricultural produce were aided. In the south the dairy 
enterprises, turkey rearing and greenhouses for flowers and 
vegetables were developed. 

In addition to this investment programme, 42 settlements 
received medium-term loans totalling £245,000 for such things as 
housing and public services, and 44 obtained short-term loans 
totalling £1,135,000 for day-to-day farming needs or bridging 
purposes. Nor was this the whole story, for 40 settlements 
received 18-month credits for revolving capital from the joint 
fund operated by JCA and the Bank of Agriculture. 

The Arava 

The Arava is the extreme eastern part of the Negev, lying along 
the Jordan border south of the Dead Sea. Ten years ago it was 
almost completely uninhabited, with only two or three villages 
along the 250-kilometre stretch from the Dead Sea to Eilat. 
Because of the long unguarded border, the government was eager 
to see communities planted in the Arava, though that particular 



area had been quiet since 1948 and indeed has remained so to this 
day. There were, however, very obvious drawbacks to engaging 
in agriculture in the Arava. The region is part of the Great Rift 
Valley, which runs from Turkey to the middle of Africa; it is 
largely below sea level and is extremely hot, with temperatures 
reaching 50° or 60°C in the summer, so that work then is impos- 
sible except in the early morning. The whole area is extremely 
dry, the average rainfall being only three or four inches per 
annum. The soil is very poor, a typical desert formation, both 
rocky and sandy. 

There were, however, certain countervailing factors present 
which convinced the Israel government and the Jewish Agency 
that it was worth trying to put some agricultural villages in this 
unpromising area. A kibbutz, Yotvata, which had been operating 
there successfully for some 15 years, had demonstrated that dairy 
cows could do well in the hot, dry Arava (there was also an 
experimental station at Yotvata). Furthermore, the Arava was a 
natural hothouse, and if crops could be grown there they could be 
ready for consumption in the European winter. Another positive 
factor was the presence of a considerable amount of underground 
water in buried aquifers; but this water is often brackish and 
sometimes contains a heavy concentration of minerals. However, 
largely on the basis of work done at the Yotvata experimental 
station, Israeli scientists have developed trickle irrigation, a system 
of feeding each plant very precise amounts of water and dissolved 
fertilisers; and it has been shown that many plants, for example 
tomatoes, cucumbers and melons, as well as fruit trees, are able 
to tolerate brackish water if it is supplied to them by this 
method. Such crops could therefore be grown in the Arava, even 
though the area does not have access to the national water- 

JCA and the Jewish Agency had for some time been discussing 
the Arava as a possible new locus for agricultural settlement, 
although JCA took the position that it could not, early in the 
1970s, make large sums available for investment there in addition 
to the money it was already putting into its consoHdation and 
loan programmes. However (as has not happened often enough 
in Jewish history), according to the old adage, 'God provided an 
answer' Since 1970 the Baron de Hirsch Fund of New York had 
been contributing to various institutions in Israel, among them 
ORT-Israel and the Agricultural Faculty of the Hebrew Univer- 
sity. JCA, offering to act as the Fund's agent in Israel, persuaded 
its trustees to lend $500,000 to the Jewish Agency, to enlarge an 
existing moshav in the Arava and start a new one. 

When the Baron created the Fund he directed that its work 



should be confined to the United States. Like the Pope in 1506, 
who declared that the Line of Demarcation he drew was to divide 
the world into Spanish and Portuguese spheres, so the Baron also 
divided the world into two parts, the United States, which was 
to be the field of the Fund, and the rest, where JCA was to 
function. The constitution of the Fund therefore limited its activi- 
ties to the United States. In 1970 however an amendment was 
effected whereby this geographical limitation was aboHshed, 
enabling the Fund to operate in Israel and elsewhere. In 1973 it 
entered into a loan agreement with the Jewish Agency, similar 
to those between JCA and the Agency, and later into further 
agreements of the same type, for the setting up of new moshavim 
and kibbutzim in the Arava. JCA continued to act as agent for 
its cousin organisation, supervising the carrying out by the 
Agency of its agreement with the Fund. Subsequently JCA made 
investments of its own in the Arava. 

Wider activities 

We have seen how JCA's activity with a few new settlements in 
the south broadened until it was dealing with over 40 settlements 
and engaging in a wide variety of lending and consolidating 
operations to expand and alter the practices and output of 'its' 
colonies so that they could keep up with the times and increase 
their income. So, also, did the Association's programme for 
assisting schools and organisations that taught, supplemented or 
otherwise aided Israeli agriculture broaden and deepen. For many 
years JCA had made grants to the Agricultural Faculty of the 
Hebrew University (beginning in 1942), to Mikveh-Israel (1897), 
and the Youth Aliyah organisation (also 1942). In 1958 the Weiz- 
mann Institute was added to the list, for research purposes. By 
the 1970s JCA was concerned with a wide range of educational, 
social and research activities, most of them connected with agri- 
culture. For example, in 1974 JCA was involved in the rehabilit- 
ation of a number of agricultural boarding schools by means of 
both grants and loans: with the help of the Association a kitchen 
and dining hall were finished in one, similar facilities began to be 
added in another, dormitory rooms were completed in a third. 
We have already mentioned the agro-mechanics departments at 
the Beer Tuvia and Shafir schools. In Rehovoth, on the campus 
of the Agricultural Faculty of the Hebrew University, a large 
multi-purpose building with classrooms and laboratories was 
being erected with the aid of a grant for that year of 1L400,000 
from JCA; the government, the university itself and a private 



donor paid the rest of the cost. JCA provided scholarships for 
pupils at agricultural schools through the Harzfeld Memorial Fund 
and directly for students of farm management at the Agricultural 
Faculty and for students of social and community services at 
Haifa University. A number of farm experts recommended by the 
Ministry of Agriculture were sent on brief study tours of their 
specialities to Europe. JCA was also instrumental in persuading 
the Baron de Hirsch Fund to help finance a building for teaching 
motor mechanics and electrical installation at Merom Hagalil in 
the north. In the south, again at JCA's suggestion, the Fund also 
helped to finance an experimental addition to a comprehensive 
regional school at Even-Shmuel with the aim of providing voca- 
tional instruction for children below the secondary school level 
and thus giving them an incentive to continue at school, which 
might not have been the case if they had followed the conventional 

Besides all this work in the educational field, JCA was subsi- 
dising a number of research projects including, at Yotvata, the 
construction of a laboratory to study water salinity and, at the 
Volcani Institute, the breeding of turkeys, the cross-breeding of 
the local Awasi sheep with Finnish and Merino varieties to 
increase fertility and meat production, and the improvement of 
irrigation methods on hill farms. These last three projects had 
obvious application to Galilee. 

More often than not, JCA used its contributions to research or 
educational projects as a lever to stimulate the participation of 
other bodies such as the Ministries of Agriculture or Education 
when such participation might not otherwise be forthcoming, or 
forthcoming so readily. JCA's usual procedure therefore was to 
cover up to one-half of the expenditure and further to divide this 
contribution into two usually equal parts, one in the form of a 
loan and the other as an outright grant. 

JCA in the Arava 

In 1974 the Baron de Hirsch Fund made a second S5U0,000 loan 
to the Jewish Agency for further work at Hazeva and for initiating 
a kibbutz, Ktura, in the southern part of the area (the general 
development plan for the Arava was for kibbutzim to be estab- 
hshed in the southern sector, and moshavim in the northern). 
For its part, JCA decided to join the Agency in a development 
programme for moshav Paran. The Association also interested 
itself in another activity in the Arava. As the number of settle- 
ments in the area approached 15 with a population of upwards of 



2,500, the need arose for centres to be built as focal points for 
communal affairs. One was decided on near Hazeva for the 
northern moshav group and another near Yotvata for the southern 
kibbutz group. At this juncture JCA was able to make use of the 
Nathan legacy. A rich South African had left some millions of 
pounds for the betterment of Israel, to be administered by an 
organisation whose name as given in the will did not correspond 
exactly to that of any existing entity. JCA was able to establish 
a claim to at least a part of the legacy and decided to use its share 
as a contribution to the Sapir Centre, as the northern Arava 
complex was named in honour of Israel's late Finance Minister. 
When completed, it was to have schools, food processing and 
storage plants, community offices and meeting halls - a concen- 
tration of structures that would contrast strongly with the bleak 
landscape of the area. 

To a visitor it is a most impressive experience to watch one of 
the Arava villages growing up. Starting perhaps as a military 
camp, with a few dilapidated buildings in the moon-landscape, 
after a year it has a few simple dwellings housing 50 or 100 bright, 
enthusiastic young men and women and perhaps a rough dining- 
hall serving also as meeting place and club-house. A well has been 
dug, delivering brackish water, which can be used for trickle 
irrigation and even, with suitable treatment, for drinking. As the 
surrounding land is worked and the biggest boulders are hauled 
away, an outline of a field appears. By the third year there are 
more houses, a better community building, turkey sheds; 
stretches of desert have become fields, planted to peppers, 
tomatoes and carnations. There is also a young grove of date 
palms. A nursery may be under construction, for the young 
families have begun to reproduce. Some of the roads may be 
paved, and if this is a moshav a few cars may be parked on them. 
There is talk of a dairy herd, and the next year the cows may 
have come; the turkey sheds have been stocked, a store is being 
built, little grass plots are beginning to appear around the houses. 
There are setbacks; some of the crops may not have turned out 
well. Curiously, in high spots in the hot Arava (for example 
Paran, 300 metres above sea level) there can be a few winter 
nights when the temperature is below freezing, so large propellors 
are installed to dissipate the cold air. But older Arava villages like 
Yotvata, 20 years old, or Hazeva, 10 years old, have an air of 
permanence and prosperity which belies the fact that a few short 
years ago they looked like raw frontier outposts. The whole of 
the growth process can be seen in the space of a day or two 
merely by visiting a number of settlements at various stages of 



The Council and Israel 

In 1976 Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid, President of JCA for 25 
years - longer than any of his predecessors in the office - died at 
the age of 67. It was largely through his inspiration and action 
that JCA had come to concentrate its efforts on Israel. Not that 
he was parochial in his interests; it was during his presidency also 
that JCA became involved in North Africa, Ethiopia and Aus- 
tralia. But Israel was his abiding concern. = 

One of the ways in which the JCA Council under Sir Henry's 
leadership manifested its interest in Israel was its practice from 
1961 onwards of holding one of its meetings there every few 
years. 6 This now gives its members a reasonably frequent oppor- 
tunity of collectively inspecting some of the Association's work 
and items proposed for inclusion in its annual budget. Another 
indication of Israel's place in JCA's outlook is the presence of a 
number of Israelis on the Council. First to be elected, in 1961, 
was Eliahu Elath, who was Israel's first Ambassador to the United 
States and later Ambassador to Great Britain. He was followed 
by Arthur Lourie, another former Ambassador to Great Britain, 
who was elected to the Council in 1972. In 1977 they were 
joined by Gideon Hausner, who as Israel's Attorney-General had 
received world-wide notice as prosecutor at the trial of the 
infamous Adolph Eichmann. Lourie died in 1978 and was 
succeeded on the Council by Walter Eytan, for ten years Israel's 
Ambassador to France. The tally of Israeli Council members was 
increased to four by the inclusion in 1979 of Yehiel Admoni of 
the Jewish Agency. 

Adult education 

Before Sir Henry's death the regional colleges springing up in 
Israel had already claimed JCA's attention and the Association 
had promised IL400,000, part grant and part loan, to such a 
college at Achva. On Sir Henry's last trip to Israel, in 1975, he 
had visited and been greatly impressed by Achva. It is situated in 
the centre of the Beer Tuvia-Lachish area where there were 20 
settlements associated with JCA, many of them peopled by fami- 
lies of oriental origin. Its purpose, Hke that of other such institu- 
tions, was to serve adults rather than children, to provide them 
with the academic training that they had not had at a younger 

In January 1977 JCA's Israel office proposed that, as a memorial 
to Sir Henry, JCA should enlarge its agreed participation in the 



development and rehabilitation of Achva to enable a new wing 
to be built which would bear his name. The building would 
contain classrooms, a library and administrative offices. There 
was also to be a permanent exhibit displaying a pictorial record 
of JCA's achievements. It was estimated that the Association's 
contribution to this project would be £130,000. The Council 
accepted the proposal and the building was erected in time to be 
dedicated on 1 August 1980. The importance of the college to the 
local population is shown by the registration figure of 1,160 
students for the 1980-1 academic year as compared with 773 three 
years before. 

The other major memorial for Sir Henry established by JCA 
was the endowment of a chair in agricultural economics in his 
name at the Agricultural Faculty of the Hebrew University at 
Rehovoth. The first and present holder of this chair is the 
renowned economist. Professor Yoav Kislev. 

JCA's interest in adult education was also directed to the 
improvement of the capabilities of those who were already 
farmers and to the advancement of the educational status of rural 
adults generally, especially those from oriental backgrounds. A 
Centre for Agricultural Advisory Services was established by the 
Ministry of Agriculture in the town of Lachish with JCA support 
in 1977. It intended, by means of short courses (a customary 
mode of adult agricultural education in the United States and 
elsewhere), to raise the level of the farmers' skills to cope with 
modern sophisticated practices such as growing vegetables under 
plastic or hydroponically. JCA helped with the establishment 
of a research and demonstration farm at the Centre and later a 
demonstration orchard. 

Further research 

Just as JCA's concern with education widened, so did its involve- 
ment in research. Its choice of research projects was governed not 
only by the intention of helping 'its' settlements but also by the 
priorities of the national Agricultural Research Authority, so that 
JCA-sponsored research was co-ordinated with state policy. In 
the study of uses for the brackish water of the Arava, JCA sup- 
ported the Yotvata research station's experiments with raising 
varieties of edible fish. Some of these experiments were conducted 
in the semi-commercial ponds of kibbutz Eilot, a few kilometres 
north of Eilat. Two years after the experiments were begun in 
1978 it was reported that the break-even point in cost had been 



Another aspect of JCA-supported research was concerned with 
the perennial problem of finding alternative crops for Galilee. 
Experiments were therefore made to raise flower bulbs in the 
region for propagation; the bulbs after starting would be trans- 
ferred to other areas in Israel to produce commercial flower crops. 
The results of these experiments were encouraging. 'Israel's 
advantage over Europe in this respect is that bulbs harvested there 
are ready for planting after a short treatment, while the European 
bulbs must be stored for an entire year before they can be planted' 
(Israel report, 1979). In addition, local plants not hitherto raised 
commercially were studied for their export potential. 

In order to tackle the problem of new products in Galilee by 
financing experiments on a larger scale than in research plots, in 
1977 JCA participated with the Agency in such programmes for 
nine moshavim of the region. An amazing number and variety of 
innovative products were tried. First, climate-controlled poultry 
houses were introduced. Second, orchards were enlarged. Then 
goats were kept for the production of cheese, a product with 
good export possibilities. Pilot studies were undertaken for the 
cultivation of flowers, herbs, mushrooms and ornamental house 
plants under glass. It should be added that research has also been 
carried out by other agencies, not associated with JCA, to find 
ways to bring into cultivation substantial tracts of land in Galilee 
where the soil had been deemed too shallow to grow crops satis- 
factorily. It now seems that there are technologies, mainly in the 
field of trickle irrigation and fertilisation, that will make it possible 
to introduce intensive agricultural crops. 

This approach to developing new sources of income caused 
financial difficulties for some of the moshavim requiring resources 
needing heavy investment, such as orchards (bananas, avocado 
pears and mangoes) and greenhouses. JCA and the other financing 
bodies thereupon took steps to lighten the repayment burden on 
the moshavim. Incidentally, in expanding the villages ecological 
considerations were now taken into account and greenhouses, 
poultry houses and livestock were concentrated in groups outside 
the residential areas. 


In 1977 activities in Galilee were disrupted by the Litani operation, 
the expedition of Israel's defence forces into southern Lebanon to 
destroy PLO centres from which attacks were being launched 
against Israel. During the military operations people living in 



Galilee had to spend nights in bomb shelters and otherwise alter 
their mode of living and working. 

A notable feature of the economic situation as a result of the 
recent change in government was the freeing of foreign exchange 
from control. This precipitated a 43 per cent devaluation of the 
Israel pound, which in turn favoured an increase in exports and 
a decrease in imports, but which also helped to bring about an 
equivalent rise in the cost of hving, the first of the great 
inflationary leaps that Israel has suffered since that time. The 
continuing and increasing inflation, rising to 100 per cent per year 
and more, has, not surprisingly, caused considerable disturbance 
on the Israel financial scene, at times forcing JCA and other 
lenders to suspend the issue of loans pending a government deci- 
sion on interest rates and other loan conditions. Also intensified 
was an already well-developed penchant for calHng strikes as 
groups of workers tried to secure wages aligned with the strongly 
upward price trend. Interest rates of 80 per cent or more continue 
to amaze outside observers. The Israeli economy, however, with 
such measures as the linkage of interest charges and wages to the 
cost-of-living index, has managed to keep going, as have entities 
within it such as JCA. 

In 1977 loans were issued by JCA to 35 moshavim, 11 
kibbutzim and 2 agricultural boarding schools, about the same 
number as the year before. The money figures in Israeli currency 
would obviously be higher, if only because of inflation. Interest 
rates charged by JCA were now up to 18 per cent, but were still 
low in comparison with bank charges or the rates on government 
loans. The 1977 report from the Israel office remarks that the 
balance of the Israel pound loan funds includes 'a very substantial 
part of interest payments earned (about 45 per cent of the 
balance)', which went some way to compensate for their loss in 
value in sterling terms. The concomitant of this loss in value 
was a shrinkage in terms of purchasing power. To increase the 
effectiveness of the money it lent, JCA decided to reduce the 
number of settlements receiving loans in Israel pounds by omit- 
ting those which had reached an economic level that no longer 
'justified subsidised loans'. The figures nevertheless remained 
substantial - IL5, 516,000 in medium-term loans and IL20,41 1,000 
in short-term loans, all provided for purposes similar to those 
previously described, as were the loans granted from the joint 
fund with the Bank of Agriculture which amounted to IL6 

All these loans provided supplementary financing that would 
not be available 'under the official general norm fixed by the 
authorities. The flexibility and timing of such supplementary 



assistance has proved to be of great importance for the economic 
progress of the settlements' (1977 Report). 

In the last couple of years, JCA in Israel has continued to act 
along the lines described in the foregoing pages. This is not to 
say that its programmes and policies have remained static, for 
outside forces dictated changes and new ideas were brought to 
bear on old problems. Thus, through most of 1979 JCA curtailed 
its lending activity to some extent, awaiting a government deci- 
sion on credit policy. When this was promulgated it made index- 
linked loans feasible. In that year, as inflation soared and with it 
interest rates, JCA's rates on its normal short-term loans rose 
likewise: 32 per cent from January to July, 50 per cent from 
August to November and 65 per cent in December. With the 
introduction of the linkage policy the medium-term loans were 
linked to the extent of 70 per cent to the cost-of-living index. A 
difference from past experience was seen in the identity of the 
borrowers: 16 per cent of the loans went to new moshav settlers 
including sons of moshavniks, a category that had been minimal 
in previous years. 

Also, a new form of lending was introduced towards the end 
of the year: namely the issue of dollar-linked loans through the 
intermediary of the settlement movements' at interest rates of 
7-10 per cent. This was advantageous to all parties concerned: to 
JCA because the movements are stronger fmancially than any 
single settlement and the repayments would be dollar-linked; to 
the settlements who would be able to borrow on relatively favour- 
able terms, because the movements, eager to foster the develop- 
ment of their younger and less firmly established affiliated settle- 
ments, were willing to subsidise loans to them; and to the 
movements, because it provided them with a new source of funds. 

In Galilee JCA joined in a new plan designed to supplement 
the income from agriculture. This entailed, for the kibbutzim, 
that small industries should be established in them, and for 
moshavim, that some of their members should work outside their 
villages. One kibbutz formed a building team, which not only 
built the houses in the settlement but contributed further to its 
income by construction work in other kibbutzim. In another, a 
plastics factory provided the main source of income. In kibbutz 
Moran employment was distributed as follows: 

Agriculture 25 

Industry 30 

Salaried outside work 15 

Construction team 30 



At the end of 1980 a number of new kibbutzim were in the 
process of formation in Gahlee whose prospective members were 
receiving training at older kibbutzim. Some of the candidates 
were still serving in the army. Because of the strategic importance 
of establishing new settlements in the Arava and Galilee, the army 
was willing to hand over old camp sites in both areas to groups 
of new settlers and to allow a certain amount of leave to prospec- 
tive settlers to enable them to learn the rudiments of farming. 
The new kibbutzim in Galilee were not only to depend on the 
traditional poultry houses (except that these were to be 
thoroughly modern, with controlled temperature) but also to try 
greenhouses and plant nurseries, keep milch goats and grow spices 
and herbs under the supervision of scientists from the Volcani 
Institute. They were also to have small factories producing 
machine parts. A rather unique kibbutz activity, by Yahel in the 
Arava, was to offer a travel service for trips to Sinai. In the new 
Galilean moshavim of Kolamit, Lunim and Lapidot, while the 
houses and farm sites, including avocado orchards, were being 
prepared, most of the future settlers were employed outside the 

The most dramatic occurrence in Galilee in 1980 was a 
Palestinian terrorist attack on kibbutz Misgav Am in the northern 
sector, on the Lebanese border, which had been associated with 
JCA for some years. A child, an adult member and a soldier were 
killed in the incursion. 'After having overcome the first shock, 
the kibbutz returned to its normal activities and absorbed a few 
families from other places in Israel who were not deterred by this 
calamity' (JCA Israel report for 1980). JCA contributed towards 
the rehabilitation of Misgav Am. 

In the Arava, JCA in conjunction with the Jewish Agency was 
working on development programmes for five settlements. The 
most notable feature in this area was the continued growth of the 
two regional centres. At Sapir in the north, in addition to the 
various administrative and industrial buildings already mentioned, 
there were now functioning primary and secondary schools and 
a building for the grading, processing and packing of dates - a 
sign of the growing importance of this crop, of which the many 
orchards planted earlier were now coming into bearing. The 
southern centre at Yotvata also had by this time a date house, a 
school and an auditorium in addition to the facilities mentioned 
previously. The growth of these two centres was an obvious 
indication of the development of the Arava, despite its hostile 
climate and desert environment and the occasional setbacks that 
may affect the early stages of any new undertaking. Not only had 
the Arava settlements, which now numbered over 15, grown 



Steadily, but future growth seemed assured by the existence of a 
waiting hst of candidates for settlement who outnumbered the 
places available. An interesting discovery was an underground 
source of hot water at moshav Paran. One use found for it was 
to heat the ground for planting melons earlier than usual. The 
progress in the Arava was good for Israel's economy in general, 
because by 1980 the country had almost reached self-sufficiency 
in food production, so that if agriculture were to expand it could 
do so only by developing more and new outlets for export, and 
the products of the Arava are almost all destined for shipment 

JCA continued in 1980 with its usual loan programmes at what 
had become, after years of hyperinflation, the customary almost 
incredible interest rates, albeit still well below commercial levels. 
Medium- and short-term loans went to 48 settlements, two 
regional councils and one school and amounted to IL54,563,000; 
IL9,435,000 was granted from the joint loan fund with the Bank 
of Agriculture in which JCA had a 46 per cent share. The total 
amount distributed in loans represented a nominal 89 per cent 
increase over the 1979 figures, but the cost-of-living index in the 
same interval had risen by 110 per cent. 

The present 

In its programmes for 1981, JCA stated that these came under 
the same three general headings as before: agricultural settlement 
work, assistance to rural educational and advisory projects, and 
assistance to agricultural research. There were, of course, some 
changes in detail. Because of high interest rates and curtailment 
of government-subsidised credits, settlements reduced their agri- 
cultural development programmes, so that there was a smaller 
demand for loans for this purpose. In the educational field there 
was to be participation in the building of dormitories in three 
agricultural boarding schools, in order to absorb more children 
from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as the construction of 
classrooms, a kitchen and a clinic at others. 

The core of JCA's activity in Israel remains, as it has been for 
90 years, the financing of farmers and providing them with advice 
and direction. How far this work extends is demonstrated by the 
fact that in 1981 50 settlements received JCA assistance, while 71 
in all had received such assistance since 1933. Out of a total of 
between 600 and 700 moshavim and kibbutzim in the country, 
this is a not negligible proportion. In 1981 the moshavim that 
had been helped by JCA comprised 3,560 farm units, i.e. families; 



together with the 18 kibbutzim helped, they represented a popula- 
tion of 24,166. The agricultural population in Israel was 320,700 
in 1981, so JCA's help had involved 7.5 per cent of the total. 

Thus the immediate future envisaged for JCA in Israel is both 
a repetition and an outgrowth of the past. As Israel's agriculture 
has evolved, and become more varied, more complex and more 
export-orientated, JCA, which started with the comparatively 
simple aim of just putting settlers on the land, has likewise found 
its plans and programmes becoming more complex and varied. 
That it is nevertheless still walking in well-worn paths is not 
surprising; for it can look back on its efforts in Israel with the 
satisfaction of having contributed to the establishment of a self- 
sufficient farming class who have not succumbed to the blandish- 
ments of the cities. This fulfilment of the Baron de Hirsch's vision 
has, incongruously, taken place in a land of whose suitability for 
the settlement of Jews he was, to say the least, very doubtful, 
and where probably not in his wildest dreams did he believe it 
possible that Jews would create a State of their own. Theodor 
Herzl, who had such dreams and believed in them, had told the 
Baron this would happen. But the Baron had remained unstirred. 



In 1983 JCA maintains a small headquarters in London and a 
small staff in Israel. This is a far cry from the JCA world of the 
1930s, with its extensive agricultural activities in Argentina, Brazil 
and Canada, its multifarious operations among the Jews of Russia 
and Eastern Europe and its important functions in the fields of 
emigration and immigration. But it can look back with pride on 
what it did, both to improve the quality of life for the Jews living 
in the countries of anti-Semitic repression and to ensure a secure 
future for the thousands who fled from such countries. And JCA's 
work in Palestine and Israel has been of real importance to the 
development of the State. 

This is a tale of historic irony. The Baron de Hirsch, that great 
practical man of affairs, successful builder of railways in Turkey 
despite all obstacles, had a vision of transforming Jews into inde- 
pendent and successful tillers of the soil (it is true that Jews had 
been farmers in Judea 2,000 years before, but they had barely 
practised the occupation since then). To this end the agencies 
Hirsch created, JCA and the Baron de Hirsch Fund, settled 
colonies of Jews in many Hkely and unlikely places, from all of 
which they, or more particularly their children, tended to drift 
away as the economic and social pull of urban occupations, profes- 
sions and life-styles prevailed over the attraction of Hfe and work 
in a rural environment. One man, the visionary Herzl, had told 
Hirsch how to make Jews into farmers - hold a flag before them 
as an ideal in the service of which they would labour zealously. 
And Herzl, with his rare gift of successful prophecy, pointed to 
Palestine as the location for such labour. It was in that very area, 
which Hirsch avoided because of his distrust of both Turkey and 
Russia, that his Association and his Fund eventually helped to 
estabhsh a successful farming class who are remaining on the land, 
on their own soil, in their own country. 











Baron de Hirsch (President, 1891-6) 
S. H. Goldschmidt (President, 1896) (France) 
Isidore Loeb (France) 
Herbert G. Lousada (England) 

Salomon Reinach (Acting President, 1917-18; Vice- 
President, 1930-1931) (France) 
Alfred L. Cohen (England) 
Zadoc Kahn (France) 
Dr E. Lachmann (Germany) 
Narcisse Leven (President, 1896-1915) (France) 
C. G. Montefiore (Acting President, 1915-16) 

Franz Philippson (Vice-President, 1901, 1903, 1910) 
Julius Plotke (Germany) 
Georges Kohn (Belgium) 
Charles Hallgarten (Germany) 

Paul Errera (Belgium) 

Franz Philippson (President, 1919-29) (Belgium) 
Sir Leonard Cohen (Vice-President, 1920-2, 1924; 
President, 1929-34; Hon. President, 1934, Vice- 
President, 1935) (England) 

Dr Julius Blau (Vice-President, 1934) (Germany) 

Arnold Netter (Vice-President, 1933-4) (France) 
Isaac Dreyfus (Germany) 

Carl Netter (France) 

James Simon (Germany) 

Professor Albert Wahl (France) 

Sir Osmond d'Avigdor Goldsmid (Vice-President, 

1933; President, 1934-40) (England) 

Leonard G. Montefiore (President, 1940-8) (England) 

Colonel Herbert Lehman (USA) 

Dr J. Stern (Germany) 











































Jules Philippson (Vice-President, 1934) (Belgium) 

Alfred Klee (Germany) 

E. Baerwald (Germany) 

Max Gottschalk (Vice-President, 1952-76) (Belgium) 

Jacques See (France) 

Jacques Helbronner (France) 

Marquess of Reading (President, 1948-51) (England) 

Jacques Lyon (France) 

Emil Oettinger (Germany) 

Maurice Stern (France) 

Rene Mayer (Vice-President, 1948, 1952-71) (France) 

Wilfred Israel (England) 

Sir Lionel (afterwards Lord) Cohen (England) 

Leonard J. Stein (England) 

Leslie B. Prince (England) 

Viscount Bearsted (England) 

Rene Cassin (France) 

Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid (Vice-President, 1948; 

President, 1951-76) (England) 

Paul Philippson (Vice-President, 1977-8) (Belgium) 

General E. E. Wiener (Belgium) 

Georges Wormser (Vice-President, 1973-4; President 

d'Honneur, 1975-8) (France) 

Dr Ricardo Dubrovsky (Argentina) 

Sir Keith S. Joseph (England) 

Dr Maurice B. Hexter (USA) 

Jean Bloch (Belgium) 

Marcus J. Sieff (England) 

Andre Goldet (France) 

Dr EUahu Elath (Vice-President, 1968- ) (Israel) 

Hon. L. H. L. Cohen (Vice-President, 1969-76; 

President, 1976- ) (England) 

Michael M. Sacher (Vice-President, 1977- ) (England) 

Jules Braunschvig (Vice-President, 1978- ) (France) 

Arthur Lourie (Israel) 

Major-General Sir James d'Avigdor Goldsmid 


Hon. Mrs. E. A. Samuel (England) 

Andre Wormser (France) 

Gideon Hausner (Israel) 

James Block (USA) 

Walter Eytan (Israel) 

Hubert Heilbronn (France) 

Yehiel Admoni (Israel) 

George Harrison Heyman, Jr (USA) 

Alain M. Philippson (Belgium) 




Baron Maurice de Hirsch 1891-1896 

S. H. Goldschmidt 1896 

Narcisse Leven 1896-1915 

C. G. Montefiore (Acting) 1915-1916 

S. Reinach (Acting) 1917-1918 

F. Philippson 1919-1929 

Sir Leonard Cohen 1929-1934 

Sir Osmond d'Avigdor Goldsmid 1934-1940 

L. G. Montefiore 1940-1948 

The Marquess of Reading 1948-1951 

Sir Henry d'Avigdor Goldsmid 1951-1976 

The Hon L. H. L. Cohen 1977- 




The Jewish Colonization Association was incorporated with a paid-up 
capital of £2 miUion, Baron de Hirsch's initial gift to the Association. 
In his will (he died in 1896) he also left to the Association a bequest of 
£7,100,602 which the subtraction of death duties of £1,228,498 reduced 
to £5,872,104. Based on the increase in the cost of living between 1896 
and 1982, the current value of the Baron's beneficence to JCA would 
be set at about £200 million, 25 times as much as the original amount. 

JCA's balance sheets and income and expenditure accounts up to 1914 
are no longer available; possibly they were lost when the Head Office 
was moved from Paris in the chaos of the Second World War. And the 
figures between 1914 and the early 1920s present a distorted picture 
because of the First World War and its aftermath. 

By the middle of the 1920s, however, economic activity had returned 
to 'normal'. Let us look at the expenditures and receipts for 1924. (In 
interpreting the figures for this and other years the reader should bear 
in mind that they are sometimes an amalgam of capital and income 
items. It should also be borne in mind that over the 90 years covered 
by this review the systems of accounting, and indeed accountancy prac- 
tices in general, changed many times. This often makes the comparison 
of one year with another very difficult, if not impossible.) 

Expenditure and Receipts, 1924 



General expenses 



















Central Administration 

Exchange differences 

Other expenses 

Investments (purchases and sales) 

Investment income 





Broken down by country 




































It is interesting to note from the amount spent on emigration how 
important this activity had become. Argentina was still the major centre 
of operations; though large sums were being spent there, repayments 
were even larger. This fact, combined with the sizeable expenditure in 
Russia, prompted a bitter attack on JCA by a journalist who asserted 
that JCA was wasting its income from Argentina by spending it on the 
Association's Russian activities. In one sense, however, the money was 
usefully employed: it made life easier, or even procured a living, for 
thousands of Jewish families, albeit temporarily. On the other hand, the 
money might indeed have provided a more certain and more long- 
lasting benefit had it been spent elsewhere, particularly in Palestine. 

The balance sheet as at 31 December 1924 shows the net assets at 
£5,997,456, startlingly depleted from the approximately £8.3 million 
they had totalled some 30 years before. The reduction was due not only 
to the loss or reduction in value of German and other European securities 
as a result of the 1914 war, but also to the writing-off over the period 
of sums invested inJCA's colonization and other activities that had also 
been severely affected by the havoc of the war. As will be shown later, 
opportunities were taken in subsequent years to restore the position. 

Balance Sheet as at 31 December 1924 


Cash and securities 

Sundry debtors 

Real estate 

Colonization: Argentina 


Baroness's bequest: 
Cash and securities 
Profit and loss account 










Carried forward 6,364,519 




Provisions and reserves 

Sundry creditors 

Brought forward £6,364,519 



Net assets 


Financed by: 

Share capital 

Donated funds: 
Baron de Hirsch 
Baroness de Hirsch 






Net cost of operations and adjustments, 




Let us now look at the expenditures and receipts for 1928. Clearly, 
Russia, which accounted for more than half the total expenditure in 
countries of operation, had become the principal locus of JCA's efforts. 
For the moment migration work was less important than in previous 
years, as the refugees from Russia had finally been moved out of Europe. 
Including various accounting items, the total of the expenditure side in 
1928 was £785,536, and with revenues from securities amounting to 
£371,226 in addition to repayments, receipts, at £768,215, were almost 
equal to the expenditure. The large amount of the Argentine receipts 
and the even larger expenditure in the USSR lend further point to the 
journalist's criticism concering the funnelling into Russia of receipts in 
South America. 

Expenditure and Receipts, 1928 





Emigration (including HICEM) 


General expenses 








Investment income 
Exchange differences 
Transfers to reserves, etc. 






Broken down by country of operation: 




HICEM (Emigration) 




























In 1929 and again in 1933, the Association's real estate holdings were 
revalued. In 1934, after allowing for losses on bad debts, increasing 
reserves for doubtful accounts and for depreciation and writing off losses 
for past years, the assets in the balance sheet as at 31 December 1934 
totalled £6,950,613. Although this was still £1,347,486 less than the total 
sums received from the Baron and Baroness, the process of restoration 
referred to above was already beginning to take place. On the basis of 
these figures, it can be calculated that in its 43 years of activity up to 
1934 JCA had lost', or spent from its capital funds, about £31,000 per 

Expenditure and Receipts, 1938 





















Investment income 




Broken down by country 

of operation: 




Germany and action fo 

r German Jews 



































The 1938 receipts and expenditure account is representative of the 
Association's activities after Hitler had come to power. The report that 
accompanied the account began with a remark about the unavailabihty 
of any information from Russia after the first quarter of the year. Since 
the JCA staff members in Russia had been arrested or Hquidated, the 
absence of information is not surprising. A country now involving a 
large expenditure, £98,770, was Germany. The size of this figure (the 
comparable amount in 1937 was £39,589) shows how important emigra- 
tion had become to the Association. The HICEM figure of £51,604 
also included expenditure for refugees from Germany. The Argentine 
expenditure of £116,839 attested to that country's continuing promi- 
nence in JCA's scheme of things, but with receipts at only £83,589, 
repayments of capital were no longer what they had been in the 1920s. 
Only £12,845 was spent in Palestine, compared with £64,514 the year 
before, reflecting the big decline in immigration. It is to be noted that 
another country of major expenditure was Poland, £51,313. The total 
sum disbursed on operations in 1938 was £414,700. Against this, 
£118,664 was received (over 70 per cent of this from Argentina) in the 
form of repayments. The difference (in round figures) of £300,000 was 
made up from investment income of £170,000 and the £130,000 by 
which sales of securities had exceeded purchases. 

During the war period that followed, no general audit was possible. 
In the preparation of the 1946 accounts the securities in the portfolio 
were revalued in accordance with then current quotations; ample reserves 
for holdings in South America were set up; and debts from Hungary, 
Czechoslovakia, Russia and the Foundation were written down to £1 
each. The same was done for debts owed by communities in Argentina. 
After all these write-offs and revaluations, the total of assets came out to 
£7,012,717. In real terms, however, the pound sterling had depreciated 
considerably in the eight years since the previous balance sheet. 

Assets in Balance Sheet as at 31 December 1946 

Investments £4,617,945 

'Participation' investments 46,787 

Cash at banks 144,457 
Sundry debtors and current accounts less 

sundry creditors 166,330 
Colonization (after reserves): 

Argentina 1,514,441 

Brazil 308,911 

Canada 61,265 

Palestine 143,567 

Other (Turkey, etc.) 9,014 


The assets in the balance sheet as at 31 December 1946 show that the 
Argentine colonization figure is not large - even if one takes into account 
write-offs and depreciation - in relation to what was accomplished: not 
only the settlement on farms of 15,000 European Jewish families, but 



the whole Jewish emigration to Argentina, which was largely due to 
JCA's pioneering efforts. Moreover, the balance sheet figure does not 
show the very large sums expended on colonies and repaid by the 
colonists under their contracts. 

By 1955 the method of presentation of the income and expenditure 
account had been changed to show only the net balances of the local 
income and expenditure accounts in the countries of operation; again, 
these scarcely reflect the scale of JCA's activities in those countries. 
Although the Association had arrived at the conclusion that it should 
wind down its activities in Argentina, that country still showed a compa- 
ratively large net expenditure. The explanation probably is that, accus- 
tomed as JCA was to treating the Argentine settlements as favoured 
recipients of aid, the Council were not able in practice to act brusquely 
in accordance with their intellectual conclusions. Thus, although it had 
become clear that Israel should be the future focus of the Association's 
activities, this perception, amply implemented later, was not reflected 
in the accounts of 1955. 

Net Balances of Income and Expenditure , 1955 

General expenses £27,384 

Pensions 27,186 

Grants 61,880 


Excess of expenditure over income: 

Argentina £31,018 

Canada 6,857 

North Africa 15,597 

Israel 4,000 

Excess of income over expenditure: 

Brazil 43,955 


Depreciation of foreign currencies 


Total expenditure 
Investment income 


Net deficit for the year 


By 1965 the form of presentation of the accounts had been 
changed again, and the Income and Expenditure Account had 
been replaced by the Operations Account. 

Operations Account, 1965 

Investment income £263,343 

Interest on advances and sundries 33,135 
Net profit on sales and redemption 

of investments 111,576 

Net surplus on sales of land, etc. 37,661 




Operations Account, 1965 (cont) 

General expenses £49,427 

Excess of expenditure over income: 

Argentina £ 7,775 

Brazil 3,072 

Israel 11,904 

Loan activities 5,847 

Excess of income over expenditure: 

Canada 7,547 

Grants 172,185 

Depreciation of foreign currencies 32,979 

Provision for doubtful debts 18,560 

Total expenditure 294,202 

Net surplus for the year 151,513 


Balance Sheet as at 31 December 1965 


Land, buildings and equipment £152,637 

Stores and livestock 27,598 

Loans and debtors 1,667,238 

General Investments: 

Quoted securities at cost (market 

value £4,858,250) £4,148,533 

Other 297,941 

Baroness de Hirsch estate investments 118,007 

Cash 103,372 



Provisions and reserves 413,462 

Sundry creditors 16,759 


Net assets £6,085,105 

Financed by: 

Share capital £2,000,000 

Donated funds: 

Baron de Hirsch £5,872,104 Hirsch 118,007 

Sundry " 7,912 



Net cost of operations and adjustments, 

1891-1965 1.912,918 




Ten years later, at 31 December 1975, the net assets had increased to 
£7,654,160 as a result of operating surpluses and capital profits on realis- 
ation of investments in the intervening years. The accumulated deficit 
from 1891 had correspondingly decreased to £353,327. Another notable 
difference between the two balance sheets is in the item 'Loans and 
debtors' - £1,667,238 in 1965 and £4,433,072 in 1975 - reflecting the 
expansion in the Association's activities in Israel. A concomitant of this 
was the substantial reduction in General Investments. 

Balance Sheet as at 3i December i975 


Land, buildings and equipment £84,013 

General Investments at cost (market 

value £3,757,279) 3,396,175 

Baroness de Hirsch estate investments 122,442 

Loans and debtors 4,433,072 

Cash 175,236 



Provisions and reserves £496,174 

Sundry creditors 60,604 


Net assets £7,654,160 

Financed by: 

Share capital £2,000,000 

Donated funds: 

Baron de Hirsch £5,872,104 

Baroness de Hirsch 122,442 

Sundry 12,941 



Net cost of operations, 1891-1975 353,327 


By this time JCA had reached its present mode of operation, that is, 
to confine its activities almost entirely to Israel, except for making grants 
to organisations such as World ORT Union, HIAS and the Alhance 
Israelite, where its support had become, as it were, traditional. The 
Operations Account for 1975 shows income of £501,073 from loans and 
investments. Against this, grants were made to the tune of £215,991, 
and currency exchange losses of £312,394 were sustained, chiefly on 
investment holdings in the United States; but a surplus of £89,927 on 
sales of land in Canada and Argentina and profits on sales of investments 
amounting to £62,605 enabled the year to end with a small net surplus 
of £1779. 



Operations Account, 1975 

Investment income 


Interest on loans and advances 


Surplus on sales of land: 






Net profit on sales and 

redemption of investments 



Excess of expenditure over income: 






Excess of income over expenditure: 









General expenses 


Net increase in provisions and 



Depreciation of foreign currencies 


Debits applicable to prior years 


Total expenditure 


Net surplus for the year 



The latest accounts available at the time of writing are those for 1981. 
The balance sheet is not essentially different from those immediately 
preceding, although there is one interesting change. The previous item 
representing losses and expenditures from 1891 to date has been replaced 
by a surplus amounting to £1,030,650, the accumulated deficit having 
been exceeded by gains in the intervening years. 'Land, buildings and 
equipment', which was such a familiar item in previous years, has also 
disappeared following the winding-up of the Association's interests in 
Argentina, Brazil and Canada. The comparatively small figure for equip- 
ment remaining refers to the Israel office. 

Balance Sheet as at 31 December 1981 




General Investments at cost (market 

value £5,648,489) 


Baroness de Hirsch estate investments 


Loans and debtors 




Carried forward £9,372,100 


Brought forward £9,372,100 


Provisions and reserves £364,382 

Sundry creditors 21,858 


Net Assets £8,985,860 

Financed by: 

Share capital £2,000,000 

Donated funds: 

Baron de Hirsch £5,872,104 

Baroness de Hirsch 83,106 



Net surplus on operations, 1891-1981 1,030,650 


Operations in 1981 showed an income of £836, 109 from investments 
and interest and a foreign currency surplus of £243,423, largely arising 
from the appreciation of the US dollar in sterhng terms. Total expendi- 
ture and provisions came to £354,113, leaving a net surplus for the year 
of £750,667. This formed a major part of the accumulated surplus from 
1891 shown in the balance sheet. 

Operations Account, 1981 

Investment income £458,076 

Interest on loans, advances and deposits 378,033 
Net profit on sales and redemption of 

investments 21,736 
Net surplus on translation of foreign 

currencies 243,423 

Donations 3,512 


Excess of expenditure over income: 

Israel £55,159 

Brazil 4,030 

Grants 132,316 

General expenses 72,324 

Increase in provisions 90,284 

Net surplus for the year 750,667 


This review of JCA's finances shows it on 31 December 1981 with 
assets of nearly £9 milhon, not very different from the total in 1900, 
after the deaths of the Baron and the Baroness. But, as stated earlier, 



the value of the pound now is about 4 per cent of what it was at the 
turn of the century, so the capital ofJCA in real terms is but a small 
fraction of what it had been when Queen Victoria was still on the British 

Whatever one can make of the necessarily summary figures quoted in 
this Appendix, looking at the picture as a whole, and even allowing for 
the decline in the purchasing power of the pound sterhng, the expendi- 
ture depicted for the myriad of good works performed by JCA since 
1891 would appear to be relatively modest. In some sense this seems to 
justify the hopes of the Baron de Hirsch that the farmers whom he 
established in Argentina, Canada, Brazil and elsewhere would ultimately 
become self-supporting. In terms of the hundreds of thousands of indivi- 
duals whom JCA helped, the cost to the Association for each family per 
year must have been a comparatively negligible amount. Because of the 
vagaries of inflation, because the balance sheets and other accounts are 
affected by JCA's operations in the securities markets, because of the 
unavailability of the accounts for the early years and because the balance 
sheets do not show the total amount spent on JCA's projects, it is 
beyond our capacity to put a figure on this total expenditure. What we 
do know is that for most years the expenditure consumed the whole of 
the income, which, as we have seen, often amounted to 




Unit of 










Peso (gold) 




Peso (paper) 










Aust. -Hungary 

Florin or 










Belga (= 5 








Milreis (gold) 




Milreis (paper) 































Mark, RM or 








Florin or 


































































1 All quotations: units of foreign currency to £1 sterling 

2 Where two rates 

are quoted these ; 

are the maximum and minimum for 

the period 1 January- 

24 October 1930 

3 (a) Gold standard suspended by UK 21 September 1931. 

(b) Where two 

rates are quoted 

these are 

the maximum 

and minimum for 

the period 

1 January-17 October 1931. 





1938^ 1939 1948 1956 

1966 1976 




























30-28 26.5 






40.7 61-43 96-80 
4.87 4.28-3.75 5.03-4.78 











12.1-9.5 9.4-8.4 9.0-8.7 8.34 









25.3-19.2 19.6-17.2 21.8-20.9 



1030 960-780 622-590 555 



























6,168 19 

3.01 1.62 
1.22 0.705 



10.10 4.26 
8.40 14.05 









1.45 0.721 

25.31 27.42 
2.79 1.66 
194 6.50 












4.88-3.83 3.80-3.36 5.04-4.71 4.49 
12.0-6.4 8.3-7.3 8.57 9 


4 Where two rates are quoted these are the maximum and minimum for the period 1 January- 
15 October 1932. 

5 Where two rates are quoted these are the maximum and minimum for the period 1 January- 
31 October 1938. 

6 After the Anschluss the currency in Austria was the German Reichsmark durmg the war 



Chapter 1 The Baron de Hirsch and Russian Jewry 

1 The Alliance Israelite Universelle, founded in Paris in 1860, was the 
first modern international Jewish defence organisation. Its objectives 
were to combat anti-Semitism anywhere in the world, to help Jews 
everywhere gain civil rights, to assist Jewish emigrants, chiefly from 
Russia and Romania, and to establish a network of schools for Jewish 
children in North Africa and the Middle East. 

2 The Baron lived most of his adult life in France and Belgium and 
habitually spoke French. Therefore it seems appropriate to use the 
French form of his name, which indeed he himself adopted, though 
in later life he did become a citizen of Austria. 

3 K. Grunwald, Turkenhirsch, Israel Program for Scientific Transla- 
tions, Jerusalem, 1966, p. 18. The following pages are based on 
Chapters IV and V of this book. 

4 Ibid., p. 33. 

5 Ibid., p. 35. 

6 Ibid., p. 41. 

7 Ibid., p. 60. 

8 In an effort to assess the value in today's terms of the amounts of 
money quoted herein the author consulted Raymond Goldsmith, 
Yale Professor of Economics Emeritus. The latter expressed the 
opinion (in a letter dated 4 November 1980) that, based on a compa- 
rison between Britain's gross national product in 1890 and that in 
1979, a multiplying factor of 121 should be used. Another calcul- 
ation, based on the British cost-of-living index, gives a multiplying 
factor of about 25. 

9 C. Hibbert, The Royal Victorians, Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1976, p. 

10 There might also have been some ancestral influence inclining him 
to charity. His grandfather established a charitable foundation in his 
will, and his father was also open-handed and indeed received many 
distinctions therefor, including a barony in 1869. His ancestry may 
also have been influential in another important respect. Grunwald 
(op. cit., p. 7) remarks: 'A student of this family record is struck by 
the unvarying devotion to the land, by a physiocratic philosophy, 
which sees in agriculture the source of all wealth, a philosophy 
typical of the romantic period.' Maurice de Hirsch turned out to be 



both a physiocrat and a philanthropist. In noting parental influence, 
it should also be mentioned that his father was deeply involved in 
financing railway construction, 
lis. Adler-Rudel, Moritz Baron Hirsch, Profile of a Great Philanthropist, 
reprint from Year Book VIII of the Leo Baeck Institute, London, 
1963, p. 15. 

12 Ibid., p. 17. 

13 Encyclopaedia Judaica, Keter Publishing House, Jerusalem, 1971, vol. 
14, p. 446. 

14 This was the Beilis case. Beihs was acquitted by an all-Russian jury. 

15 S. Joseph, History of the Baron de Hirsch Fund, Jewish Publication 
Society, New York, 1935, p. 11. 

16 Baron de Hirsch, in The Forum, August 1891. 

Chapter 2 The Beginning of the Jewish Colonization Association 

1 In the North American Review, July 1981. 

2 It has at times been asserted that thie Baron opted for Jewish settle- 
ment in Argentina because the failure of an English fmancial house, 
Murietta & Co., made him the owner of land in Argentina and also 
gave him some claims on a railway there. Grunwald, the Baron's 
biographer, disputes this strongly, noting that the Murietta failure 
did not take place until 1892, while the Baron had decided on settle- 
ment in Argentina as much as two years before. 

3 See n. 8, Ch. 1. 

4 The local Jewish community at this time was very small, and the 
antagonistic minority was composed of some who, it must alas be 
confessed, had come to Buenos Aires to engage in the white slave 
trade (R. Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina, ]ewish Publication Society, 
Philadelphia, 1978, pp. 60-1). Needless to say, they were treated 
with the greatest opprobrium by the community whose good name 
they besmirched. JCA was very much alive to the problem and lent 
its support to English and other European organisations occupied 
with the protection of young women travelling alone. For more on 
the white slave trade in Argentina and Jews' part therein see article 
by Nora Glickman in American Jewish Archives, vol. xxxiv, no. 2, 
November 1982, pp. 178-89. See also Judith L. EMn, Jews of the 
Latin American Republics, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel 
Hill, 1980, p. 108. 

5 M. Alperson, Dreisig Yar in Argentina, Jiidischer Literarischer Verlag, 
Berlin, 1923. 

6 Even this led to an incident. One of the husbands wanted to enter 
the warehouse to see his family; the guard misunderstood his inten- 
tion, and since there was no common language, the guard and the 
husband got into a fight and the 'intruder's' nose was bloodied. This 
led to a great outcry -Jewish blood was being shed. (L. Schallman, 
'Historia de la Jewish Colonization Association', pp. 80-1, translated. 
This is a typed MS. in Spanish, in the JCA office in London, which 



appears to date to 1956. Lazaro Schallman was an employee ofJCA in 
Buenos Aires. He wrote many pamphlets on the Jewish community, 
Jewish immigration and Jewish colonization in Argentina.) 

7 C. Avni, 'The Promised Land', English translation in possession of 
JCA, not yet published, p. 182. 

8 Jewish Chronicle, London, 23 December 1892. 

9 The same edition o( the Jewish Chronicle as printed JCA's first annual 
report also carried the following announcement: 

A New Hirsch Foundation in Hungary 

Baron de Hirsch has created a new foundation of three million 
florins, the annual income of which, 120,000 florins, is to be 
divided among Hungarian poor, irrespective of religion. 
Madame David Bischitz, to whom Baron de Hirsch gave charge 
of a former munificent foundation for Buda-Pesth, has been 
entrusted by him with the distribution of the annual amounts. She 
has organised a Committee which will carry out the object of 
the trust. 

10 Avni, op. cit., p. 258. 

11 Ibid., pp. 477 et seq.; Schallman, op. cit., pp. 239-78. 

12 Jewish Chronicle, London, 2 February 1894, p. 7. 

13 The peculiar language was Yiddish. 

14 Schallman (op. cit., p. 232, translated) says: 

Yarcho's abnegation in responding to the calls of the sick was 
legendary. He defied bad weather, downpours, tempests, the 
cold and the heat, the bad roads, and the constant danger of 
bandits who roved the countryside in search of plunder. In a 
wagon drawn by oxen he would travel 30 to 40 kilometres per 
day under such conditions. 

He calls particular note to the heroic efforts of Yarcho during a 
typhus epidemic in 1894. 

15 S. J. Lee, Moses of the New World, Thomas Yosseloff Ltd, New York 
and London, 1970, p. 263. 

16 There is some evidence that Lousada was never called to a meeting. 
One member of the Council, who presumably was Lousada, was 
quoted as saying that he never attended a meeting and indeed had 
never been summoned to one (S. Temkin, typed MS. in JCA records, 
pp. 27-8), 

17 Alperson, op. cit., pp. 391 ff 

Chapter 3 Activities in Russia 

1 D. Feinberg, 'Historical survey of the colonization of the Russian 
Jews in Argentina', Journal of the American Jewish Historical Society, 
vol. 43, no. 1, September 1953, translated by Leo Schpall, pp. 63-5. 


Chapter 4 JCA in Palestine 

1 The President of this organisation was Leon Pinsker, the author of 
'Autoemancipation', pubhshed in 1882, one of the most influential 
of the pre-Herzl Zionist tracts. 

2 This paragraph is based on Narcisse Leven, Cinquante Ans d'Histoire, 
vol. II, Paris, 1920, pp. 498-510. 

3 Grunwald, op. cit., p. 123. 

4 M. Lowenthal (ed. and trans.), The Diaries of Theodor Herzl, Dial 
Press, New York, 1956, Chapter II. 

5 Ibid., pp. 109-10. 

6 S. Schama, Two Rothschilds and the Land of Israel, Collins, London, 
1978, pp. 110-11. 

7 Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 14, p. 343. 

8 Schama, op. cit., p. 135. 

9 Ibid., p. 167. 

10 Ibid., pp. 236-7. 

11 Ibid., p. 170ff 

12 Ibid., p. 181. 

13 Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 10, p. 48. 

Chapter 5 Argentine Colonies 

1 Schallman, op. cit., p. 420. 

2 Ibid., p. 404. 

3 Twenty-three people were killed in this incident, which caused 
immense indignation and an outpouring of condemnation of the 
czarist regime in Western Europe and the United States. 

4 A mitigating note may be sounded. The tens of thousands of Jews 
who emigrated to Argentina between 1905 and 1913 and settled 
outside the colonies came because JCA had opened the country to 
Jewish settlement. 

5 Schallman, op. cit., pp. 416-20. 

6 This colony, founded in 1903, was located on the 100,000-hectare 
Leloir purchase, and the site was quite possibly not carefully 

7 Schallman, op. cit., pp. 421ff 

Chapter 6 JCA Elsewhere 

1 Translation of Mr Eisenberg's version ofJCA's history in Brazil. 
Typescript in JCA office, London, dated May 1960. 

2 Ibid. 

3 S. Belkin, Through Narrow Gates, Canadian Jewish Congress and 
Jewish Colonization Association, Montreal, 1966, pp. 76-7. 

4 C. E. Leonoff, 'Pioneers, ploughs and prayers. The Jewish farmers 



of Western Cinzdz, Jewish Western Bulletin, 16 September 1982, pp. 
9 and 15. 

5 Belkin, op. cit., p. 84. 

6 Ibid., pp. 211, 216. 

7 Ibid., p. 86. 

8 Ibid., p. 41. 

9 Ibid., p. 141. 

10 H. Troper and I. Abella, None is Too Many, Lester and Orpen Denys, 
Toronto, 1982. 

11 Ibid., p. 151. 

12 Ibid., p. 237. 

13 Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 14, p. 389. 

14 Ibid., p. 390. 

15 A. Gabis (ed.), Fondo Comunal, Villa Dominguez, Argentina, 1957, 
p. 18. 

16 The history ofWoodbine is described in detail in Joseph, op. cit. It 
is also outlined in an article by the present author, 'The Baron de 
Hirsch Fund since 1935', which appeared in I. Trainin, From the 
Pages of My Communal Diary, Commission on Synagogue Relations, 
Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, New York, 1977. 

17 This section is based on the records of J AS and the author's own 
knowledge of the organisation, of which he was an official from 
1950 to 1972. 

18 E. Kedourie (ed.), The Jewish World, Abrams, New York, 1979, p. 

Chapter 7 Argentina after the First World War 

1 The people who were not classed as colonists were those who, living 
within the precincts of the colonies, were engaged in occupations 
other than farming. 

2 JCA recognised that this was the organisation's aim and therefore 
did not view its creation with equanimity (L. Oungre, 'Rapport sur 
I'Argentine', Paris, 1928, typewritten, in JCA office, London, p. 

3 Elkin, op. cit., p. 142. 

4 Fondo Comunal, Villa Dominguez, Argentina, 1954, p. 32, translated. 

5 Elkin, op. cit., p. 142. 

6 G. Aronstein, 'Rapport sur I'Oeuvre de la JCA en Argentine', Paris, 
1934, in JCA office, London, p. 52, notes that the price of farm land 
in Buenos Aires province took the following course (prices given in 
pesos per hectare): 









Aronstein remarks that, while in 1928 farmers were eager to acquire 



title, in 1933 they were not. He also observed that not one single 
colonist ever offered to share with JCA any of the profit he made 
on the sale of his property. 

7 In the 1920s JCA had 80 cases being processed in the Argentine 
courts and employed 12 lawyers (Oungre, op. cit., p. 154). 

8 M. D. Winsberg, Colonia Baron Hirsch, University of Florida Mono- 
graphs, Social Sciences, no. 19, Summer 1963, Gainesville, Florida, 
1964, p. 60. 

9 Ibid., p. 64. 

10 Schallman, op. cit., pp. 445-8. 

11 Fondo Comunal, 1954, op. cit., pp. 182-8. 

12 Two extracts from Oungre's 1928 report illustrate JCA's attitude 
very nicely. The older contracts of sale had required a 20-year period 
on the farm before the colonists could become owners, so that they 
could be moulded into vrais pay sans. Then, just before the First World 
War Entre-Rios province imposed a special tax on absentee landlords. 
This tax could have been avoided if JCA had granted ownership 
immediately to the colonists holding contracts of sale, but it did not 
do this because it did not want the settlers to lose the advantage of 
its tutelage. 

13 JCA Annual Report 1930, p. 8. 

14 Schallman, op. cit., pp. 475-83. 

15 Oungre, op. cit., p. 124. 

16 Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 3, p. 414. 

17 JCA - Su Obra en la Republica Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1954, 

18 Schallman, op. cit., pp. 541, 552 and 557. 

19 Ibid., p. 566. 

20 Elkin, op. cit., p. 154. 

Chapter 8 The Situation in Russia 

1 For many years JCA has made a substantial annual grant to World 
ORT Union. 

2 A. SchmoU, 'Rapport sur I'Oeuvre de la JCA en Russie', 1925, typed, 
in JCA office, London. 

3 This section is largely based on Y. Bauer, My Brother's Keeper, Jewish 
Pubhcation Society, Philadelphia, 1974, pp. 57-104. This is a history 
of JDC from 1929 to 1939. 

4 Conversation with Dr Hexter. 

5 L. Shapiro, History of ORT, Schocken Books, New York, 1980, pp. 

6 Ekaterinoslav is now known as Dnepropetrovsk. 

7 Artels were small groups of workers collectively engaged in indus- 
trial or agricultural projects. 

8 J. Mirkin, 'Rapport sur la situation des Oeuvres de la JCA en Russie', 
12 February 1930, confidential report, typewritten, in JCA office, 



9 H. Agar, The Saving Remnant, Compass Books, New York, 1962, 
p. 49. 

10 Shapiro, op. cit., pp. 152-3. 

11 Ibid., pp. 153-5. 

12 Bauer, op. cit., p. 83. 

13 Ibid., pp. 83-104; Shapiro, op. at., p. 55. 

14 Shapiro, op. cit., p. 159. 

15 Agar, op. cit., p. 51. Perhaps not absolutely all the Jewish farmers 
were killed. In May 1981 Professor Altschuler of the Hebrew Univer- 
sity told the author that many years previously he had met in Israel 
a survivor of either the JCA or JDC colonies in the Ukraine who 
indicated that a few others like him had lived through the war and 
made their way afterwards to Israel. Even if a tiny number did 
manage to escape, the main point remains true, for the Einsatz- 
gruppen and other Nazi instrumentalities wiped out hundreds of 
thousands of the Jews in the farm colonies in southern Russia. 

16 Shapiro, op. cit., p. 135. 

17 Ibid., p. 160. 

18 Bauer, op. cit., pp. 70, 99 and 103. 

19 JCA Circular no. 740, 11 July 1963, and enclosures. 

Chapter 9 Palestine and the Near East 

1 In part perhaps this is due to the uncovering of the British spy ring 
'Nili', manned by Palestinian Jews. 

2 Schama, op. cit., pp. 295 and 317. 

3 Felix Warburg (1871-1937), senior partner of the banking firm Kuhn, 
Loeb & Co., chairman (inter alia) of Joint Distribution Committee; 
Bernard Flexner (1865-1945), eminent lawyer and Zionist leader, 
chairman of Palestine Economic Corporation, member of executive 
committees of Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish Agency; 
James de Rothschild (1878-1957), son and successor of Baron 
Edmond, head of Commission Palestinienne; 

Simon (later Lord) Marks (1888-1964), leading Enghsh Zionist, 

chairman of the great retailing chain Marks and Spencer; 

2nd Marquess of Reading (1889-1969), statesman and lawyer, 

member of JCA Council 1934-51 and President 1948-51. 

Sir Osmond d'Avigdor Goldsmid (1877-1940), eminent public 

servant, member of JCA Council 1918-40 and President 1934-40. 

4 Conversation with Dr Maurice Hexter, 24 November 1980. 

5 This is translated from a memorandum in French in the JCA records, 
dated 24 September 1932, unsigned, but presumably written by Louis 
Oungre. The preceding and following pages are based on this 

6 The income of the JDC was $3.5 milhon m 1928 but fell to $380,000 
m 1932 (O. Handlm, A Continuing Task, New York, 1964, p. 54). 

7 Oungre's trip resulted in part at least from a certain amount of direct 
lobbying on the part of Maurice Hexter, who went to see Sir Leonard 



Cohen in the summer of 1932 and urged him to send Oungre on a 
mission to Palestine. Sir Leonard did not consent until his wife broke 
in to say, 'Leonard, you can't send this young man home empty- 
handed' (conversation with Dr Hexter, 14 October 1981). 

8 Letter to the author from M. Hexter, 7 October 1980. 

9 Oungre was greatly impressed, when he and Hexter were in Beer 
Tuvia, by a young boy who rushed out to greet the visitors, very 
anxious to show them a calf, just born on his father's farm; 36 
years later this boy became General Tal, the famed tank commander 
(conversation with M. Hexter, 24 November 1980, and letter, op. 

10 Letter from M. Hexter, op. cit. 

11 JCA minutes, 22 December 1932. 

12 Jerusalem Post, 5 October 1973. 

13 D. Angst, Nichtzionisten in Pdlesdna, Universitat Zurich, Zurich, 

14 Ibid., p. 70. 

Chapter 10 Poland and Eastern Europe 

1 S. Segal, The New Poland and the Jews, New York, 1938, p. 39. 

2 Ibid., p. 99. 

3 Ibid., pp. 72-3. 

4 Ibid., pp. 137, 143, 147, 180, 197 and 199. 

5 Bauer, op. cit., pp. 50 and 184. 

6 JCA Annual Report 1922, p. 103 (translated). 

7 Bauer, op. cit., pp. 36, 46-7. 

8 Ibid., p. 32. 

9 The 1929 Report (p. 199) makes the claim: 'Les caisses desservent 
aujourd'hui presque tons les Israelites.' 

10 Bauer, op. cit., p. 43. 

11 Segal, op. cit., pp. 149 and 207. 

12 L. S. Davidowicz, The War against the Jews, Bantam Books, New 
York, 1976, p. 537. 

13 Bauer, op. cit., pp. 296 and 301. 

14 JCA Annual Report 1937, p. v. 

Chapter 11 Romania and Czechoslovakia 

1 Summary of the Chronicle of M. Mariassin, in archives ofJCA- 
Israel, Tel-Aviv. 

2 Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 14, p. 394. 

3 Bauer, op. cit., pp. 214-17. 

4 Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 14, p. 396. 

5 Ibid., p. 404. 


Chapter 12 Migration 

1 JCA Annual Report 1919, p. 97. 

2 M. Wischnitzer, Visas to Freedom, World Publishing Co., Cleveland 
and New York, 1956, pp. 96, 97 and 121. 

3 Article by S. Gould in Natural History Magazine, vol. 89, no. 12, 
December 1980, p. 14. 

4 Wischnitzer, op. cit., pp. 123 and 128. 

5 Ibid., p. 127. 

6 These authorities do not always agree, and a further difficulty is that 
some of the years referred to are fiscal years, some calendar years. 
The author, acknowledging the possibilities of error, has done his 
best with the sources available, and if some of the figures presented 
lack exactitude they nevertheless reflect clearly enough the general 
picture and the main tendencies. 

7 Wischnitzer, op. cit., p. 131. 

8 A German authority - none less than the Gestapo - tells us that in 
the years 1933-6, HICEM helped 15, 846 Jews to get out of Germany 
at a cost of £175,000; that in November 1939 HICEM opened an 
office in Brussels; and that between then and March 1940 this office 
received 7,476,000 Belgian francs, 4,776,000 from JCA and 2,700,000 
from JDC. These interesting pieces of information are to be found 
in a memorandum written by an SS Sturmbahnfiihrer in the Gestapo 
office in Brussels and dated 12 December 1940. The memorandum 
found its way after the war into the JCA archives in London. It 
contains an excellent brief summary of HICEM and JDC activities. 
It also states that by the time the Second World War broke out 
HICEM had 41 affiliates for emigration, transit and immigration. 

9 Wischnitzer, op. cit., pp. 149-50. 

10 Interview with Dr M. Hexter, 13 October 1981. 

Part III From the Second World War to the Present 

1 Interviews with Mr V Girmounsky and Mr J. Rosemblum, retired 
members of JCA staff, April 1980. 

Chapter 13 End in Argentina 

1 M. D. Winsberg, Colotxia Baron Hirsch, University of Florida Press, 
Gainesville, 1964. 

2 'Of 313 anti-Semitic incidents in the world reported in 1967, 142 
occurred in Argentina' - Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 3, p. 416. 

3 Reproduced in English translation in JCA Circular no. 586, 15 June 

4 Quotations here are from a report by Mr J. Neville (Director of 
JCA, 1971-9) in Circular no. 1077, October 1973, m the JCA files. 



This account of the termination of JCA's activities in Argentina is 
based on that report. 

5 El Colono Cooperador, Buenos Aires, 5 October 1979. 

6 JCA Circular no. 541, 22 September 1958. 

7 R. Weisbrot, The Jews of Argentina, Jewish PubUcation Society, Phila- 
delphia, 1979, pp. 52 and 176. 

8 Elkin, op. cit., p. 152. 

9 Ibid., p. 159. 

Chapter 14 JCA World-wide 

1 Interview with V. Girmounsky, April 1980. 

2 Ibid. 

3 When France granted Tunisia independence in 1954 it retained 
control of the naval base at Bizerta. In 1961 certain activities there 
caused the Tunisians to believe that the French were intending to 
expand their area of influence and stay permanently. Violent rioting 
ensued and there were many killed or injured. Tunisian Jews, who 
were thought to be siding with the French, were attacked. The 
American Jewish Yearbook for 1962 (p. 435) remarks that 'the greatest 
shock to Tunisian Jewry was probably psychological', for Tunisia 
had always been considered the least anti-Jewish of all the Arab 
countries, and now it appeared that Jews were not safe there either. 

4 Because of the changes in the currencies and rates of exchange after 
independence, from Moroccan francs to dirhams and from Tunisian 
francs to dinars, the figures for operations over a period covering 
both old and new currencies are given in their equivalents in pounds 

5 1980 Annual Report of HIAS, p. 31. 

6 Memorandum, 13 May 1965, signed L. B. P(rince), in JCA files. 

Chapter 15 Israel 

1 Named after the noted American philanthropist, Felix Warburg, who 
played a large part in the Palestine Emergency Fund (one of the 
progenitors of Emica) and countless other Jewish charitable organisa- 
tions in the period between the wars. 

2 Encyclopaedia Judaica, vol. 10, p. 26. 

3 The accepted abbreviation for Israel pounds is IL. 

4 Kurdistan is not a separate country, but that name can be applied to 
the northwestern area of Iraq and the bordering northeastern part 
of Iran, where the indigenous population is Kurdish, not Arab or 

5 Sir Henry manifested his concern for Israel outside JCA. For 
example, he was for many years chairman of the London arm of the 
Bank Leumi. 

6 JCA's administration expenses are closely controlled, and Council 



meetings, once more frequent, are now limited to t^wo a year held 
in London, Paris or (occasionally) Brussels; but a meeting in Israel, 
preceded by a week of touring JCA projects, is substituted for one 
of these meetings when occasion requires - recently as often as 
alternate years. 
7 The settlement movements are nationwide central organisations to 
which the settlements are affdiated according to their character or 




Achad Ha'am, 61 
Achva, 282-3 
Admoni, Yehiel, 282 
Agro-Joint, 138-9, 147-9 
Ahlem, 113 

Alliance Israelite Universelle, 9, 13, 
15, 17, 21, 43, 60, 66, 90, 96, 
112-13; Baron de Hirsch's relations 
with, X, xi, 13, 14, 20, 34, 112; 
with JCA in North Africa, 249-51 
Alperin, A., 234-6 

America, see United States of America 
American Joint Reconstruction 
Foundation, 157, 158, 173-8 
passim, 183-8 passim, 191-2, 196-7, 
200, 299 
Angst, Doris, 161-2 
anti-Semitism, 2, 189, 308; in 
Argentina, 38, 129; in Canada, 
100; in Ethiopia, 259; in Latvia, 
185, 187; in Morocco, 249; in 
Poland, 128, 167, 179, 187; in 
Romania, 101-2, 187, 190, 195, 
197-8; in Russia, 15-16, 50-1; in 
Spain, 219 
Antwerp, 202, 208-10, 214, 218 
Arava, 275, 277-81, 283, 287-8 
Argentina, 20, 22-40, 70-89, 117-32, 
229-41, 271, 296, 299, 300, 302; 
immigration to, 22-3, 51, 78-80, 
89, 121, 128-30, see also Chapter 
12, pp. 201-25 
Aronstein, Georges, 126-8, 149-50, 

227, 240, 257 
artels, 141, 147, 313 
Australia, 227, 254-6, 282; 

immigration to, 113, 212, 222 
Avigdor, colony (Argentina), 130, 

131, 234, 235 
Avigdor, moshav, 263 

Avni, Dr Chaim, 38-9 

Baltic states, 184-5, 201 

Barcelona, 218 

Baron de Hirsch Fund, x, 8, 18, 90, 

109-11, 248, 278-80, 291 
Baron de Hirsch Institute, 95, 99, 249 
Baron Hirsch, colony, 73, 76, 86, 88, 

121, 230 
Baron Hirsch Stiftung, x, 14, 103 
Beer Tuvia, 155, 160, 263, 264, 268, 

269, 276, 279, 315 
Belgium, 212, 223 
Belkin, Simon, 96, 98 
Berlin, 202 
Bessarabia, 2, 14, 45, 49, 51, 79, 134, 

187, 190, 192-5, 202, 203, 208, 215 
Bet Can, 68 
Bialystok, 47, 174 
Bischoffsheim & Goldschmidt, 10 
Bramson, Leon, 135 
Brazil, 1, 90-5, 241-5, 271, 303; 

immigration to, 94, 95, 100, 129, 

151, 243, 245, see also Chapter 12, 

pp. 201-25 
Brody, 15, 16, 104 
Brur Hail, 271 
Brussels, 203, 316 
Bucharest, 102, 186, 190, 191, 208 
Budapest, 14, 113 
Buenos Aires, 8, 214, 237; Jewish 

community in, 235 
Bukovma, 14, 103-5, 190, 192, 195-7 
Bulgaria, 187, 202 

Caisse Israelite de Demarrage 
Economique (CIDE), 253, 254 

Canada, 1, 8, 27, 90, 95-101, 227, 
246-9, 302, 303; immigration to, 
51, 95, 96, 98-100, see also Chapter 
12, pp. 201-25 



Canadian Committee, 97, 99, 101, 

Canadian Jewish Congress, 100, 246, 

Cassel, Sir Ernest, 21 
Cazes, David, 30-3, 73 
Central British Fund, 254, 256, 258 
Chile, 245; immigration to, 100, see 

also Chapter 12, pp. 201-25 
China, 212, 215; immigration to, 100 
Clara, colony, 29— 2)?! passim, 70, 71, 

76, 80, 82, 88, 241 
Cohen, Sir Benjamin L., 21 
Cohen, Sir Leonard, 155, 156, 159, 

212, 314-15 
Cologne, 202, 206 
Commission Palestinienne, 61-2, 63, 

67, 68, 152, 161, 162 
Comzet, 138-40, 148 
Constantmople, 7, 11, 115, 206, 210, 

Consultative Committee, 230-2 
co-operatives: in Argentina, 81-3, 

117, 123, 127, 131; in Palestine, 65; 

in Poland, 178; in Romania, 193, 

199; in USSR, 130, 137 
Cracow, 14, 169 
CuUen, Edward, 20, 25 
Cyprus, 90, 105-6, 108, 163 
Czechoslovakia, 186, 198-201, 222, 

223, 270, 299 
Czenstoniev, 45, 168, 169, 173 
Czernovitz, 105, 195, 196 
Czestochowa, 45, 168-70, 172 

Da'ath Society (Warsaw), 49, 168 

Daljevcib, 212, 221 

Dalton, 273 

Danzig, 203-9 passim, 212, 222 

d'Avigdor Goldsmid, Sir Henry, 232, 

238, 264, 277, 282, 283 
d'Avigdor Goldsmid, Sir Osmond, 

155, 156, 189, 212, 264 
Dominguez, 82, 88, 232, 235 
Dora, colony, 84-6, 89 
Dubrovna, 44, 52 
Dubrovsky, Dr Ricardo, 231, 233 
Dvinsk, 47, 48, 184 

Ecuador, 223 

Edenbridge, 97 

Edward, Prince of Wales, 13, 28 

Eisenberg, Isidore, 91, 92, 242, 245 

Ekaterinoslav, 44, 79, 136, 137, 140 

Elath, Dr Eliahu, 282 
Elkin, Judith, 118, 132, 241 
Emergency Fund, see Palestine 

Emergency Fund 
Emica Association, 159-61, 227, 

Emigdirect, 203, 210, 211, 217 
Entre-Rios, 27, 35, 124, 2?>2>-l passim, 

Ethiopia, 227, 257-9, 282 
Even iVIenachem, 273 
Eytan, Walter, 282 
Ezra Society, 202, 206, 208, 209, 214, 


Farod, 274 

Femberg, David, 7, 20, 21, 36-7, 42, 

Flexner, Bernard, 155 
Fondo Comunal, 82, 118, 127, 239, 

Fonds Social Juif Unifie (FSJU), 254 
Foundation, see American Joint 

Reconstruction Foundation 
France, 253—4 
Frankfurt, 113; Jewish Community 

in, xi 
Fraternidad Agraria, 117, 123, 131, 

230, 238, 239 

Gahcia, 14, 90, 103-5, 171, 178, 180 
Galilee, 68, 115, 26?r-77 passim, 280, 

Gerchunoff, Alberto, 81 
Germany, 188, 208, 217-23 passim, 

299, 316 
Gestapo, 316 
Girmounsky, Victor, 227 
Goldschmidt, S. H., 21, 22, 37 
Goldsmid, Colonel A. E. W., 28-9, 

Goldsmid, Sir Julian, xi, 21 
Gottschalk, Max, 223, 227, 230 
Greece, 187 

Grodno, 47, 49, 169, 170 
Grunwald, Dr Kurt, 10, 12, 159 
Guedera (Katra), 58, 59 
Giinzburg, Baron Horace de, 21, 43 

Halphon, Rabbi, 80-1 
Harbin, 215, 221, 223 
Hausner, Gideon, 282 
Hazeva, 280, 281 



Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 

278-80, 283 
Hedera, 55, 59, 153-5, 160 
Heilprin, Michael, 17-18 
Herzl, Theodor, 27, 56-8, 159, 289, 

Hexter, Dr Maurice B., 139, 155, 157, 

158, 225, 233, 264, 314-15 
HIAS, 203, 205, 211, 212, 217, 218, 

223-5, 243-5, 302 
HICEM, 211-27 passim, 249, 299, 316 
Hilfsverein der Deutsche Juden, 206, 

209, 221 
Hirsch, Baroness Clara de, x, 10, 21, 

109, 112 
Hirsch, colony (Canada), 96, 97 
Hirsch, Lucien de, 13 
Hirsch, Baron Maurice de, x, 1-3, 7, 

9-14, 40, 159, 289, 291 
Hirsch, Samuel, 30-3 passim 
Homel, 50, 52, 136 
Huleh, 158, 160-1, 263-4 
Hungary, 255, 299, 310 

immigration, 201-25; to Argentina, 
22-3, 51, 78-80, 89, 121, 128-30; 
to Australia, 113; to Bolivia, 100; 
to Brazil, 94, 95, 100, 129, 151, 
243, 245; to Britain, 100; to 
Canada, 51, 95-100 passim, 246, 
249; to Chile, 100; to China, 100; 
to Israel, 265-6; to New Zealand, 
113; to Palestine, 100, 129, 149, 
151, 180; to South Africa, 113; to 
USA, 50, 51, 79, 100, 109-11, 151, 
224, 248 

Industrial Removal Office, 110, 204 

Israel, 227, 231, 240, 263-89, 302; 
immigration to, 265—6; research in, 
279, 280, 282-3; vocational 
education in, 275-6, 279-80, 288 

Israelitische AUianz (Vienna), 14, 50, 

Istanbul, 219 

Jassy, 102, 186, 190, 191 
JCA Central Committee (St 

Petersburg), 42, 43, 48, 49, 52 
JEAS, 203, 218, 219, 221, 222 
Jerusalem, 59-60, 62, 66-7 
Jewish Agency, 156, 263, 267-8, 

271-3, 278-80, 284, 287 
Jewish Agricultural Society, 97, 

109-11, 248 

Jewish Association for the Protection 
of Girls and Women {see also white 
slavery), 113, 214 

Jewish Community Foundation of 
Greater Montreal, 248-9 

Jewish Immigrant Aid Society (JIAS), 
99, 204, 209, 210, 249 

Jewish National Fund, see Keren 

JIAS, iee Jewish Immigrant Aid 

Joint Distribution Committee QDC), 
2, 111, 135-41, 144-7, 172, 173, 
180, 184-9, 193, 210, 212, 220, 222, 
243, 245, 251, 254-8, 314, 316 

Joseph, Sir Keith S., 233, 240, 264 

Kahn, Dr Bernard, 167, 173, 180 

Kahn, Zadoc, 58 

Kalvarisky, Chaim, 63, 64, 66 

Katra, see Guedera 

Kenya, 227, 256-7 

Keren Kayemet (KKL) (Jewish 

National Fund), 154, 160, 263-4, 

Kfar Blum, 276 
Kfar Hanassi, 268 
Kfar Maimon, 268 
Kfar Warburg, 263, 264, 266, 269 
Kherson, 44, 51, 79, 137 
Kiev, 16, 50, 136 

Kishinev, 16, 51, 99, 191, 203, 208 
Kogan, M., 29-30, 31 
kolkhozy, 142, 146, 147 
Kolomea, 104 
Kovno, 50, 185 
kulak(s), 143, 144 

Lachish, 263-5, 268, 270, 271, 283 
Latvia, 184, 187, 210, 212, 214 
Lemberg, see Lvov 
Leningrad, see St Petersburg 
Leven, Narcisse, 40, 64, 112 
Libau, 7, 50, 210 
Lipton, see Qu'Appelle 
lishentsy, 138, 139, 149 
Lithuania, 14, 44, 212, 214, 219 
Liverpool, 202, 206, 208, 214 
loan banks/loan institutions/loan 
kassas, 2, 43; in Argentina, 208; in 
Australia, 254—6; in Austria, 186; in 
Brazil, 209, 216, 218, 243-5; in 
Bulgaria, 186; in Canada, 246-9; in 
Chile, 245; in Czechoslovakia, 



113, 186, 200; in Estonia, 185; in 
Finland, 188; in France, 253-4; in 
Galicia, 90, 104—5; in Germany, 
188; in Greece, 188; in Latvia, 185; 
in Lithuania, 44, 185; in Morocco, 
251-3; in Palestine, 62, 66-7, 188; 
in Poland, 45, 168-80, 182-3; in 
Romania, 186, 191-3, 195-7; in 
Tunisia, 251-3; in Turkey, 186; in 
Uruguay, 245; m USSR, 136-42 

Lodz, 168, 170, 181 

Loeb, Isidore, 22, 37 

London Conference (1950), 131, 230 

Lourie, Arthur, 282 

Lousada, Herbert G., 37, 58, 310 

Lowenthal, Dr Wilhelm, 8, 9, 19, 22, 
24-5, 35, 237 

Lucienville, 72, 80, 82, 88, 239 

Lvov (Lemberg), 14, 178, 180 

Mansion House Committee, 15, 95 
Marks, Simon, 155 
Marmorosch, 192, 196, 197 
Mauricio, 22-4, 27-36 passim, 70, 71, 

73, 76, 85, 88, 117, 120 
'May' Laws, 15 
Mesha, 68 

Metulla, 64, 152, 273 
Meyerson, Emile, 61, 156, 171 
Mikveh-Israel, 43, 59, 107, 108, 112, 

113, 276, 279 
Minsk, 45, 50, 136, 169 
Mirkin, Joseph, 142-5 
Misgav Am, 287 
Mishmar Hayarden, 55, 58, 59, 64, 

Mocatta, F. D., 21 
Mohilev, 136 
Mohilever, Reb, 55 
Moisesville, 20, 22, 27-36 passim, 70, 

71, 74, 76, 88, 121, 122, 127, 237, 

Montefiore, colony, 86-7, 89, 122, 

Montefiore, Leonard G., 157, 212, 

233, 256 
Montefiore Society, 102, 202, 206, 

Montevideo, 216, 221, 245 
Montreal, 8, 204 
Moosomin, 95, 96, 112 
Moran, 286 

Morocco, 218, 224, 227, 242, 246-53 
Moscow, 15, 26, 137 

Nansen Committee, 136, 207 

Narcisse Leven, colony, 73, 76, 88 

Nathan legacy, 281 

Ness Ziona, 55, 58, 59, 65, 152-5, 160 

Netter, Charles, 16, 203 

Neville, Joseph, 238 

Niagara Peninsula, 246, 248 

Nili Conspiracy, 115 

Nir Banim, 264, 265 

Nordau, Max, 57 

North Africa, 249-53, 267, 270-5 

Novopoltava, 45 

Odessa, 47-9, 51, 141 

Ontario, 246, 247 

ORT, World ORT Union, 135, 139, 

141, 145, 147-8, 169, 170, 185, 

232, 244, 259, 276, 278, 302, 313 
Oungre, Edouard, 225, 227 
Oungre, Louis, 89, 124-8, 155-8, 

173, 202, 204, 210, 212, 225, 227, 

240, 264, 314, 315 
Oxbow, 96 

Palacios, 8, 9 
Palacios, Dr Pedro, 8, 9 
Pale of Settlement, 14-17, 52 
Palestine, 7, 115, 151-62; 

immigration to, 100, 129, 149, 151, 

180, see also Chapter 12, pp. 201-25 
Palestine Emergency Fund, 155-7, 

159, 160 
Palestine Land Development 

Company, 68 
'Pampistas', 24, 27, 28 
Paran, moshav, 280, 281, 288 
Pardess Hanna, 276 
Paris, 203, 218, 223, 227, 254 
Passman, Charles, 227 
Petach Tikvah, 54, 55, 65, 152, 153 
Philippson, colony (Brazil), 90-3 
Philippson, Franz, 83 
PICA, 152-4, 160-2 
Pinsk, 170 
Piotrkov, 169 
Plotke, J., 58 
Pobiedonostsev, 14, 17 
Podolia, 8, 45 

'Podolians', 8-9, 19-20, 22, 24, 237 
Poland, 2, 14, 44-51 passim, 115, 128, 

166-84, 187, 201, 205-9, 212-24, 

254, 296-9 
Polesie, 174 
Poliakoff, J., 21 



Poltava, 48 

Porto Alegre, 209, 216, 245 

Prince, Leslie B., 254-7 

Qu'Appelle (Lipton), 96, 97 
Quatro-Irmaos, 92-3, 242-5 
Quebec, 246, 247 
quintas, quinteros, 123-5, 128 

Raffalovich, Rabbi Isaiah, 94, 208, 

Reading, 2nd Marquess of, 155, 232 
Rehovoth, 55, 59, 63, 152-5, 160, 

279, 283 
Reinach, Salomon, 21, 37 
research, 279, 280, 283-4 
Rezende, 93, 243 
Riga, 47, 184, 210, 212, 221 
Rio de Janeiro, 209, 216, 243, 244; 

Jewish community in, 94 
Rio Grande do Sul, 73, 90, 93 
Rio Negro, 233, 234 
Rishon-le-Zion, 54-6, 59, 65, 152, 

Romania, 1, 90, 101-3, 187, 190-8, 

201-15 passim, 219, 225, 249 
Rosen, Dr Joseph, 138, 139, 147 
Rosenwald, Julius, 139, 149 
Rosh Pinna, 54, 55, 62 
Roth, Adolfo, 25, 31 
Rothschild, Baron Edmond de, 55-6, 

60-2, 67-8, 152-3, 161-2, 273 
Rothschild, James (later Baron) de, 

Rothschild, Lord, 21 
Rotterdam, 202, 208, 218 
Rudolf, Prince, of Austria, 13 
Rumsey, 97 
Russia {see also USSR), 1, 2, 7-8, 

14_18, 42-52, 207, 209, 240, 296, 

297, 299 
Russian Sub-Carpathia, 198-200 
Russo-Polish War, 52, 166, 168, 169 

Sachs, A., 136, 148 

Safed, 155 

St Petersburg (Leningrad), 7, 14, 42, 

43, 46, 48, 49, 51, 52, 135 
Salonika, 188 

San Antonio, 28, 31, 36, 38, 70, 88 
Santa Fe, 8, 35, 236 
Santa Isabel, 84 
Santiago, Chile, 245 
Santiago del Estero, 85 

Sao Paulo, 94, 216, 243, 244 

Sapir Centre, 281, 287 

Saskatchewan, 95-8, 100-1, 247, 248 

Schallman, Lazaro, 76 

Schama, S., 61, 64, 67-8 

Schmoll, A., 137-9, 144 

Sdeh Moshe, 265 

Sedjera, 59, 66, 153, 154, 160 

Serbeschti, 195 

Shafir, 276, 279 

Shanghai, 212, 223-5 

Shapiro, Leon, 145, 148 

Shear Yashuv, 277 

shemita, 64 

Slobodka-Lesna, 104, \68-72 passim, 

Sociedad Agricola (Lucienville), 81-2 
Societe Cooperative Vigneronne, 61, 

Societe des Logements Hygieniques, 

44, 51 
Sofia, 186 

Sonnenfeld, colony (Canada), 97, 247 
Sonnenfeld, Dr Sigismond, 22, 36-7, 

Soprotimis, 129, 204-10 passim, 

215-16, 219-21 
Soroki, 45, 191 
Stanislavov, 104, 178, 180 
Starkmeth, Isaac, 118, 123 
Straus, Oscar, 17 

Tal, General, 315 

Tarnow, 104 
Toronto, 246-9 
Transylvania, 190-2, 195-7 
Tunis, Tunisia, 112, 227, 242, 251, 

252, 317 
Turkey, 3, 7, 13, 106-8, 115, 163-5, 

186, 187, 250 

Ukraine, 16, 49, 52, 134-9 passim, 

147, 314 
Ungrovka, 194 
United Evacuation Committee, 

United States of America, 18, 90, 

109-11, 248, 279; immigration to, 

50, 51, 79, 100, 109-11, 151, 248, 

see also Chapter 12, pp. 201-25 
Uruguay, 209, 212, 216, 220, 223, 

241, 245 
USSR {see also Russia), 134-50, 212, 

221, 248 



Vanvinckeroy, Colonel, 20 

Veneziani, Emile, 16, 56 

Vilna, 47, 48, 51, 168-71, 174 

Vitebsk, 136 

vocational education; in Brazil, 244; 
in Czechoslovakia, 200; in Galicia, 
104; in Israel, 277; 289; in Latvia, 
184; in Lithuania, 185; in Morocco, 
249-51; in Palestine, 112, 113; in 
Poland, 47, 115, \6Sr-78 passim, 
181-2; in Romania, 103, 191; in 
Russia, 43—8 passim, 52; in Tunis, 
112, 113; in USA, 109-10; in 
USSR, 136-41 passim, 146 

Volcani Institute, 280, 287 

White Russia, 134—9 passim 
white slavery, 113, 214, 309 
Wolf, Lucien, 203 
Woodbine, 109 
World ORT Union, see ORT 
Wortman, Marcos, 117, 123 

Yarcho, Dr Noe, 34 
Yavneel, 68 
Yesud Hal'va'da, 64 
Yom Kippur War, 253, 254, 277 
Yotvata, 278-83 passim, 286 
Young Men's Hebrew Benevolent 
Society (YMHBS), 8, 95, 98, 99 
Youth Aliyah, 279 

Wapella, 95 

Warburg, Felix, 145, 155, 263 

Warsaw, 47, 50, 166, 168, 170, 176, 

202, 206, 207, 215, 221 
Weizmann, Chaim, 155 
Weizmann Institute, 279 
White, Arnold, 20, 42 

Zeballas, 72-3 

Zentrale fiir Jiidische Darlehnkassen, 

Zhitomir, 48 

Zichron-Yaakov, 54-6, 60, 62, 65 
Zionist Organisation, 151-2, 155, 

210, 264